David Gould is currently studying a PhD at the University of Leeds in the School of Media and Communication. His project examines the history of the slaughterhouse in the UK and America, as well as the history of the representation of animal death in cinema. The two phenomena share a certain trajectory in their history.
The emergence of the slaughterhouse was a product of many concurrent social, economic, and moral tensions. Mass animal slaughter in urban areas created public health problems, barriers to the expansion of the meat industry, and outrage at the ill treatment of animals. The solution to these problems, the slaughterhouse, configured death as a mere moment that was both temporally and geographically isolated. The process of dying was frozen in place and pushed out of sight. The history of the representation of animal death in cinema shares this same trajectory, i.e. a move from visibility to invisibility, and a passage from process to moment.
Gould argues that this movement is systematic and deliberate. The consequence of this movement is that abhorrent and dangerous practices can continue in a new form. Often in their new form, especially in the case of the slaughterhouse, deleterious consequences are exacerbated beyond comprehension. Gould’s argument is that the global economy requires particular abhorrent practices to continue in order for it to function, and so the move to invisibility has become a structural necessity. His research shows much more than the bare fact that this happens; it exposes the mechanisms that make this move possible. With this in mind, his research presents a method of analysis that is able to detect these instances of invisibly in cultural texts, such as film, and in socio-political and economic institutions.
Prior to studying for the PhD, Gould received his BA (Hons) from the University of Brighton in 2016 studying Philosophy, Politics, and Ethics. He completed his MA in Cultural and Critical Theory at the University of Leeds in 2017. His MA dissertation, titled Out Come the Wolves: On the Need to Destroy Nature, examined the historical emergence of nature. The Yorkshire Dales, for example, are known as an area of natural beauty, but for the most part they are the play grounds of the rich maintained through countless hours of human labour and manipulation. The image of nature so proudly defended by the British public is distinctly man-made, bourgeois, and an environmental disaster. With this in mind, Gould draws from the essay The Destructive Character by Walter Benjamin to argue that the only viable solution to environmental disaster is the destruction of nature.