Avian Study

We are all familiar with looking through a pair of binoculars and the ability it gives us to study something in a more intimate way. Yet with this intimacy comes a blindness to what is composing the of scene around us. 

We have an inability to comprehend greater scenes, so in order to understand a place we divide it up, collect specimens, and study them in the sterility of a lab. By removing these birds from their environment we have decontextualized them; they are no longer what we think of when we think of meadow lark or chickadee they are now specimen #2514 and #1897; they are a set of data points and no longer part of the larger system from which they came. Through this decontextualization we have created a distance between the specimen and its source. We have specimens, not birds. 

To represent this archaic way of study, I have chosen an archaic photographic process. The cyanotype process is an imperfect one, one where information is lost in the shadows and highlights. These imperfections speak to the failures in this way of study. Now aided by the formation of the grid, we see the repetition through species, the austerity of the preservation, and we can guess at the information lost in this distance created. We also see a system of study, one that we can obviously only learn so much through. We are faced with the thought of a failing system. This is however not how we study today. Science has moved towards more wholistic ways of study, still based in data collection but with greater attention payed to systems as a whole. 

Much as the Bechers used the intense, repetitive, nature of Typology to discuss the relentless order of industrial production, Avian Study makes use of the intensity of typology as a way to discuss our human relentlessness to collect and classify in attempt to understand.

This is the reason for the ink jet prints you see filling in the gaps of the cyanotype grid. These images show a higher quality rendering of a more connected system. The viewer is granted more than twice as much information about the specimen through additional angles and a contemporary process. The missing specimens provide evidence that there is still information missing and that this is an incomplete view of a system. With this, I acknowledge that there are shortcomings in our current system-based ways of study. There is always more to learn from these ecosystems, and our relationship with them should be an organic one; continuously evolving to fit new discoveries and changes.