Screen printed on matte Dura-Lar film and clear plastic hardcover. Digital offset printed on Glama Natural vellum text.
7 in x 10 in x 1/3 in, 63 pages.
Real Milk is based on real-life “smart” dairy farms, where cows milk themselves using milking robots. This technology is said to benefit the cow, who is thought to be happier because she can produce milk on her own schedule. Most importantly, the milk tastes better because it is more pure. Real Milk shows multiple intersecting perspectives: the farming systems that guide the cow’s behavior; the cow who is quietly passing through these systems; and the disembodied voice that sells the story of bovine empowerment (and maximum yield). These perspectives visibly overlap across the translucent pages of the book, forming a complex picture. Ultimately, what seems like autonomy is really automation.
Each page of Real Milk is composed using interlocking “Wang tiles”. This mathematical system consists of 16 square tiles that can be endlessly combined without forming any repeating patterns. For decades, Wang tiles and similar graphical systems have been used in video games from Pac-Man to Stardew Valley to draw maps that suggest coherent worlds extending beyond the frame. In Real Milk, the sprawling tiles illustrate the cow’s dream of freedom, as well as hint at the unseen rules that structure her dream. They also provided a unique way to collaborate for Veronica Graham, who drew the Wang tile sets; and Ryan Kuo, who recombined and arranged Veronica’s tiles into full page layouts. Neither person could completely predict what shapes would form. Together with the computer, they worked toward an uncertain end, letting the system finish their thought.