— sarah makes a blog

Beef Stakes

beef_all1

My relationship with meat is complicated.

I have fond memories of mixing meatloaf ingredients with my hands as a kid, and taking my first taste of “carpaccio” when my mom wasn’t looking. In college I decided to become a vegetarian despite the fact that the only dish I knew how to prepare was steamed rice. Even now, the inclusivity of meat in my diet fluctuates between consuming only the farm-grown, veggie-heavy culinary delights I cook from scratch at home, and the sudden, raging feeling that I need to eat sushi 4 days in a row. My belief in evolution reassures me that my species not only survived, but thrived when we discovered that you can crack open the bones of animals and eat the marrow (read: super meat!) hidden inside. And most cannibals and idiom enthusiasts (you are what you eat) would agree that I am even made of meat. So you see, being a carnivore is not easy.

I decided to find a data set that pleased the side of me that I’m coming to realize is an obsessed foodie. Beef Stakes is a data representation of the amount of beef produced in 2011. My project is scaled down to include the top 4 beef-producing states, though through continuing exploration of data surrounding beef, I would love to expand my project to discuss beef imports/exports between the U.S. and the rest of the world. I’m also fascinated in the amount of waste involved in beef production; the oil used to transport, the methane produced by corn-fed cows, the actual amount of meat we consume vs. produce, etc.

Each piece of meat is made from modeling clay, and the trays were created by joining existing styrofoam packaging.

purchasing the styrofoam (aka everyone I know is getting homemade pickles for the holidays)
2012-12-10 15.19.05

my unsanitary work station
2012-12-10 18.35.34

sizing the steaks
2012-12-10 21.11.12

2012-12-10 20.48.25

fun practical jokes for everyone!
2012-12-11 12.03.09

a shot for scale (assume my hands are not huge)
2012-12-11 18.22.25

The height of the steak is mapped to the amount of beef that state produced (1″ per every billion lbs) though, as my instructor Jer and I discussed, the correct execution would be to map the amount of production in lbs to the square mileage of the state, then to the size of the “state steak”. My current mapping process left Texas in the dust, when in reality it produces “only” about 2.5 billion lbs less than the top-producer, Nebraska.

The price tags were designed in Processing, and include the amount of beef produced per state, the cost (per pound & total) to produce the beef, and how much beef each citizen would’ve had to consume, based on production, if the beef had not been exported from that state.
2012-12-10 14.59.41
pricetag_NE

My main goal for this process was to explore the data I was able to access. However, I’d like to expand the project to further explore how much we are moving food around this country, and to point out the extreme wastefulness in our current system. From a design & materials standpoint, I’d like to rework the “logo” on each label to represent the appropriate state, not the U.S. as a whole. I’d also like to reconcile the “safety instruction” icons at the bottom of the label, as well as build custom styrofoam containers for each steak.

My data was taken from beefusa.org and Cornell’s library of USDA data.

beef_NE1 beef_NE2 beef_IA1 beef_IA2 beef_IA3 beef_KS2 beef_KS3 beef_TX1 beef_all2

Symbols on the labels are compliments of The Noun Project, Kenneth Von Alt, and Ashley Reinke.

12 comments
  1. […] Beef Stakes, designed by art and technology student Sarah Hallacher, is a data representation of the amount of beef produced in the US during 2011, scaled down to only include the top 4 beef-producing states. […]

  2. Marcello says: December 19, 201210:57 am

    Hi, i came across your project on the information aesthetics blog.
    i’ve been trying to process how it works but i’m having some difficulties.
    you mapped the quantity of meat produced to the height of each steak, right?
    but, with the kind of pictures used to document the project, you can barely tell the heights of the steak apart.
    is there something i’m missing or is it simply a problem of picture composition?

    the project surely has a strong impact :) but it’s a little obscure to read, at least to me :)

    regards
    M

  3. amik says: December 19, 201212:27 pm

    tasty looking data. oh so tasty.

  4. […] Beef Stakes, designed by art and technology student Sarah Hallacher, is a data representation of the amount of beef produced in the US during 2011, scaled down to only include the top 4 beef-producing states. […]

  5. skh says: January 2, 20132:34 pm

    Hi Marcello! Sorry for the belated reply. The difference in height is difficult to discern because the production amounts are (relatively) close. As my instructor pointed out, a more accurate execution would be to map the square mileage of each state to the production amounts. I’ll also have to consider the size of the styrofoam trays– something to improve on when I expand the project. Thanks for viewing!

  6. […] visualisatie met de nadruk op visualisatie. Zo is het project “Beef Stakes” van Sarah Hallacher, student aan de opleiding “Art & Technology” (wat een […]

  7. dawn schreiner says: January 10, 201312:34 pm

    GREAT, spectacular idea!

  8. Kelly I says: January 10, 20132:45 pm

    Love ‘em!
    Back in the early ’80s I made cow-based graffiti (Dept. of Public Cow Works) and did a couple of street performances also. For one I made T-bone steaks from 2in. styrofoam and had them tray-packed at a meat processing plant. They then went into an OXO clear plastic display tube a store had given me. At the performance people could take a free souvenir steak away.
    However, yours are much better made. I love the ‘marbling’ and your labels.
    Go Grazy!

  9. […] Stakes” by an art graduate student at NYU  (you can view her blog and entry on her project here). She aims to visualize the production of beef in our nations top beef-producing states–and […]

  10. Week 2 | Creative Computation says: January 28, 20131:04 am

    […] “Beef Stakes, designed by art and technology student Sarah Hallacher, is a data representation of the amount of beef produced in the US during 2011, scaled down to only include the top 4 beef-producing states.The height of each steak is mapped to the amount of beef that state produced (i.e. 1 inch per every billion pounds). The price tags show the amount of beef produced per state, the cost (per pound & total) to produce the beef, and how much beef each citizen would have had to consume to consume a whole state’s yearly production. Each piece of meat is made from modeling clay, and the trays were created by joining existing styrofoam packaging.” [via infoaesthetics via@blprnt] […]

  11. That’s one crowded room | ateutenberg says: April 22, 20139:04 am

    […] data representation for Kansas, digital image, Sarah Makes A Blog, accessed 22 April 2013, <http://ablogthat.sarahmak.es/?p=8642601439. […]

  12. Becca says: October 30, 20132:53 pm

    Really nice work. I wish you could have used real steak instead of modeling clay, but I understand that cost, sanitariness and working conditions/time constraints probably made that impractical. I’d love to see all of these laid out like a puzzle of the US to get a bigger picture. Very interesting project. I’d love more of your insights.

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