Huge squealing AR pig appears on top of UK Tescos and Barclays

The Sow AR app exposes companies and brands with strong ties to industrial meat farming, taking over six locations across the UK.

Date
27 November 2023

The artist Naho Matsuda has worked with collective A Drift of Us and digital artist Luigi Honorat to place a giant virtual pig on top of six buildings across the UK. Among them are Tesco, Morning Lane in Hackney, Danish Crown Factory in Rochdale and Canary Wharf’s Barclays Tower.

Each of the locations has ties to industrial meat farming. Barclays, for example, has a client in huge wholesale meat corporation JBS, “one of the world’s most destructive companies in the food sector”, says Greenpeace, who helped develop the project. Tesco, who uses JBS as a supplier, is the biggest seller of industrially produced meat and dairy in the UK; a 2023 investigation links its chicken and pork products to the deforestation of 400 hectares of Brazilian Amazon rainforest (the equivalent of 220,000 trees).

The Sow AR app – free on Apple Store or Google Play as of 27 November – lets the public see the enormous animated pig in action. The artist Naho Matsuda says the idea is to make the invisible in the industrial food system, visible. Seeing the project as “a very soft form of protest”, Naho hopes passersby will wonder why someone might be pointing their phone at one of the sites, provoking further enquiry. “Just the idea of documenting these places can be really powerful,” says the artist.

The artist Luigi Honorat coded the app. “The design process for Sow is mainly Luigi first sculpting the pig then rigging the bones, then working with different types of animation because we wanted the pig to look quite heavy in how it moves. Sometimes she’s sleeping, sometimes she’s blinking. Every now and then she pushes herself up and does a big squeal or scream,” says Naho.

Above

Naho Matsuda / A Drift of Us: Sow AR, CG by Luigi Honora, developed as part of the Greenpeace project, Bad Taste (Copyright © Greenpeace, 2023)

Cargill Tower in Seaforth, Liverpool was also chosen as a location, as the main gateway for soya entering the UK. Three million tonnes of soya are imported by the UK every year for the meat industry, two thirds of which comes from countries in South America, “where its expansion drives deforestation and human rights abuses”, says a release.

It continues: “All of the institutions featured in the app are complicit in the destruction of climate critical ecosystems like the Amazon rainforest, which is not only decimating unique and important wildlife species, it’s forcing Indigenous communities off land they have owned for centuries.”

Greenpeace has supported the development of Sow AR app as part of its Bad Taste initiative, which consists of a trio of art-activist projects that draw attention to inequalities in our food system. Greenpeace took applications for Bad Taste in an open call in December 2022.

A new report warns that up to 80 million hectares of additional land (equivalent to all of Brazil’s cropland by 2030) would currently be needed for the world to meet projected demand for food, animal feed and fuel.

GalleryNaho Matsuda / A Drift of Us: Sow AR, CG by Luigi Honora, developed as part of the Greenpeace project, Bad Taste (Copyright © Greenpeace, 2023)

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Naho Matsuda / A Drift of Us: Sow AR, CG by Luigi Honora, developed as part of the Greenpeace project, Bad Taste (Copyright © Greenpeace, 2023)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating from the University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, Indie magazine and design studio Evermade.

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