a series of black glass ambrotypes
Photography invites us to pay attention. It describes with economy, precision and detail. It enables us to stare, scrutinize, and become voyeurs. Taxidermy allows us to do the same. Its complete replication of an animal’s stance, gesture and look provides us a way to study and comprehend its existence. Yet I find that these animals, often portrayed in suspended animation, seem simultaneously strange, ghostly and beautiful. Their gaze is both familiar and unknown. I intend this work to move beyond what is merely seen to the territory of the imagination, where what is remembered and known is transformed into something new.
Notes on my use of the ambrotype process:
Aging biological collections housed in science museums worldwide are facing a dilemma. Many specimens are deteriorating due, not only to the ravages of time wrought by display and storage, but also from the tactics employed to preserve these specimens in the first place. The fragility of an ambrotype’s glass substrate, coupled with the vagaries of this nineteenth-century printing process, appears to echo this visible evidence. The resultant objects seem an apt metaphor for our contemporary world, as nature and civilization struggle to find their proper balance for survival.
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