8 imagesRachel Poliquin, in her 2012 book The Breathless Zoo, writes that "Taxidermy is deeply marked by human longing," revealing our hopes and dreams about our place in the natural world. Natural history dioramas present a carefully constructed, perfectly encapsulated and controlled experience of nature, revealing as much about humanity as the nature depicted. For my recent series, Broken Models, I negotiated access to photograph dioramas in various stages of being decommissioned. Using these fictional spaces to create imaginary scenes of my own, I introduced a worker wearing a white Hazmat suit, making notes of his observations. While the worker's tasks are unidentified, the series suggests a scientific method of understanding and quantifying our experience of nature. The white Hazmat suit was an aesthetic choice for these dimly lit interiors, however it was intentionally chosen to evoke images of advanced technology labs where the environment needs to be protected from the worker. The series title, Broken Models, refers to the deteriorating dioramas I photographed and to our failed construct of the environment as one of inexhaustible resources and the resiliency to accommodate, unchanged to our abuses.
11 imagesIn Compromised Beauty photographs of beautiful landscapes are complicated by the inclusion of workers in bright yellow Hazmat suits, suggesting environmental contamination from which the worker needs to be protected. In this series I explore the correlation between environmental beauty and perceived environmental health, and the impact of humans on the environment. While photography has been used to document and aestheticize the landscape, digital photography is also used to project what the future may be like. My photographs are fictions that combine a directorial approach to image making with a modernist photographic landscape aesthetic. Multiple photographs of my model are taken on location, and at times the images are digitally combined to suggest many figures present at the site. Because the circumstances depicted are ambiguous and the beautiful environment provides no clues to why the setting is inhospitable, the viewer is left to reconcile an unsettling narrative.