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What came first: the chicken or the genetically engineered egg? In Novogen, Budapest-based photographer Daniel Szalai explores the fraught relationship between tech and nature as humans thirst for mastery over the world around us. The series investigates the production of Novogen White, a high-quality, disease-free egg made in extremely controlled environments by a company in France. No iota of life is left unregulated for these animals. Novogen carriers are genetically manipulated to develop a unique digestive tract that is able to keep up with a fast increase in consumption until they reach an ideal body weight. Each bird is inserted with an electronic chip that serves live data for insight into the animal's genetic potential. Egg shells are monitored for color and thickness. Think Handmaid's Tale, Poultry Edition.
Precious as they are, the chickens have an expiration date. Novogen carriers are killed when no longer able to produce high-quality eggs, a Darwinian fate encouraged by the pragmatism of high-volume production. But their pain is our gain: Novogen White eggs are sold to pharmaceutical companies for testing new medicines and vaccines.
Szalai - Photographs - Look - Farm - Novogen
Szalai's photographs are an inside look at a Hungarian farm that retails the Novogen eggs. Szalai had to apply for entry to the facility twice before receiving approval. And even upon entry, there were stringent stipulations. Szalai was asked to wear a "white space suit" and gloves at the farm, and his Nikon s6800 DSLR and photo equipment underwent a thorough sterilization process.
Szalai intended Novogen for entry to the 2018 Breada Photo Festival (the theme was "To Infinity and Beyond"). He shot the series in two parts. The first was a collection of 168 portraits of the Novogen egg-laying chickens. Szalai set up shop in the 1,000-meter-long chicken shed...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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