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MH is a blog and archive featuring artists who are interested in the ways in which humans interact with and experience animals and nature.

Daniel Ranalli, "Spiral #9"

Daniel Ranalli

Daniel Ranalli has spent 25 years engaging and collaborating with nature in his artwork. In his Snail Drawings series, Ranalli arranges snails on a beach and photographs the patterns they make as they move through the sand and around rocks. The “before and after” diptychs are fascinating to look at. I find myself amazed by these tiny creatures and the predictability or unpredictability of their movements, thinking about how much time has passed between the first photograph and the second. Such a unique experience can be made with nature if you slow down a little bit and patiently wait.

From the artist’s statement: I tend to think of the snail pieces as a metaphor for the order we establish in our lives, and how the element of chance enters in to affect the result – regardless of how much we attempt to structure it. My rhythm of working is based on the tides, as the snails are sedentary at certain tides. They are much more active on the outgoing tides and typically move toward the sea.

Visit artist's site: danielranalli.com

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PDNPulse

Recent News

Muybridge’s Horse has been making appearances in some great places online the past few weeks.

I did a Q&A with the PDN blog, Pulse. It’s approaching two years since the MH site launched, and the Pulse piece was a nice opportunity to think about why this endeavor is important to me and where it stands almost 150 posts later.

Kat Kiernan of Don’t Take Pictures asked me to participate in the monthly series, Rule Breakers, featuring one “rule” in photography that is seen too often, along with five photographs that violate that rule but are of exceptional quality. I chose Dara Scully and showed a few of her gorgeous black and white pictures.

I had the pleasure of being the guest judge for Feature Shoot’s recent online group exhibition of zoo photographs. It was a joy to spend time looking at all the images submitted and making the final selection. There is such a good amount of animal photography being produced today, all over the world, by many different types of photographers. Be sure to check out the post and look through the thirty-six pictures included.

Finally, keep in mind that you can submit your work or suggest an artist you think would fit in to the MH artist index by emailing me at muybridgeshorse@gmail.com. A description of the work as well as some images (jpegs attached or a link to a portfolio website) in the initial email is just fine. I am always open to collaborations and creative projects and I love receiving friendly hellos.

These are the kind of things I would post on a Facebook page if I had one. I’ve been considering it lately, but until then, subscribe to the feed (I’m a Feedly person, myself) to see posts twice weekly.

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Alec Soth, "Sleeping by the Mississippi"

Alec Soth

I have had Alec Soth in the “heavy hitters” category in my brain for a long time. I don’t think I’d ever seen his work in person before, and his exhibition at MMoCA did not disappoint. It’s amazing how different it can be seeing a photograph in person, a large, gorgeous print, no less, and after years of not thinking about it; the Holt Cemetery image is one I swore I had never seen before, but it turns out I had already included it on MH. I made a post about Soth several years ago when I was first starting to see his photography all over and really loving his environmental portraiture, but also his powerful, lonely, person-less images. I haven’t been able to get his pictures out of my mind since seeing them in Madison a couple weeks ago, so I wanted to revisit some of his series and share more images that I enjoyed here.

Soth might not be an artist you think of as fitting into a space about animal- and nature-themed photography, but I see nature playing a huge role in his work. I honestly think the subject sneaks into many artists’ projects, even without them knowing or intending it to. I have written before about how the presence of animals and nature is unavoidable, and seeing pictures by great photographers that have those qualities I’m particularly interested in is like finding gold nuggets. Plus–artists without MFAs hold a special place in my heart.

These are some of my favorites from the exhibition, and others I loved browsing Soth’s portfolio site the past few days.

Visit artist's site: alecsoth.com

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"Studio Portrait of Funeral Wreath, "Charles J. Van Schaick, Wisconsin Historical Images, Wisconsin Death Trip

MWSPE Conference, Madison

This past weekend was the Midwest region’s SPE conference in Madison, WI. As usual, I went with my buddy, Dan Garza, and we saw some good talks and lots of awesome art. In the tradition of typing up my notes and thoughts about the conference, which is sometimes my sole way of keeping up with the photography community in person, links and images galore below.

 

We arrived in Madison just in time for Michael Lesy’s talk about the Keystone View stereographs. Lesy’s book, Wisconsin Death Trip, was recommended to me numerous times as a student and I recently spent some time looking back and contemplating it (this post’s featured image is one from the book). Especially after recently hearing him on a quite old episode of This American Life, I had been really looking forward to Lesy’s talk.

 

Friday, we started out with talks by Nathan Abramowski and Jason Rutter, Shreepad Joglekar, and Matt Rahner. Abramowski and Rutter shared some gorgeous photographs from their collaboration, reDiscovering the Grand, Joglekar spoke about a show he curated, and Rahner showed images from his beautiful project based in Kansas City, Eminent Domain.

After that, we made our way to MMoCA for the Alec Soth exhibition, From Here to There, where I seriously could not have spent enough time. Back at the conference, we went to Kristin Reeves‘ talk, and then trekked downtown again for the FlakPhoto Midwest Print Show. It was a wonderful exhibition, and so nice to see names from the Midwest that I recognized. From there, we walked to the Art Lofts to see the UW-Madison Undergrad Photography Show, Yours is the last house before the far-off: home, isolation, and the self.

That evening was a talk by the Featured Speaker, Andy Adams. It was so distinct, engaging, and motivating; my favorite talk of the conference. I took a lot of notes, rife with exclamation points. To wind down the night, we went to the Scholarship Show reception, book signing, and open portfolio sharing.

 

Saturday was a short day since Dan and I had decided to go to Chicago in the afternoon. We saw four scholarship winners speak–Chadric Devin, Amanda Carmer, William Knipscher, and Gregory T. Davis–all great! We went to the Members Meeting, then snuck out to hit the road.

 

The conference felt small attendance-wise and I was hoping for more archives-themed content, but I thought there was valuable programming regardless. I especially loved the exhibitions and their accessibility; I think it can sometimes be a struggle to see it all. Madison is such a pretty, fantastic city–I shared a little about the rest of my trip there on my personal blog. Until next time, SPE! New Orleans, anyone?

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Brian Lesteberg, "Raised to Hunt"

Brian Lesteberg

Last night, I got home from my trip to attend the regional SPE conference, where I spent some time thinking about past conferences and particularly portfolio walkthroughs. That’s when I remembered learning about the work of Brian Lesteberg through Kate Wimer, a great artist showing work alongside me at last year’s walkthrough in Lincoln. Lesteberg’s series, Raised to Hunt, explores a subject I’ve been interested in since first seeing the work of Erica Larsen years ago, hunting as a practice performed by young people, a family tradition. In the project, Lesteberg documents his own family’s annual hunt following the migratory birds that descend from Canada to central North Dakota. Of these photographs, Lesteberg says, “Exhausting and exhilarating, the time I spend with my father in the field has become a ritual as steady as the migrations… My photographs are witness to this ritual and its place in the layered order of the natural world” (source).

Visit artist's site: brianlesteberg.com

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Yogamaya von Hippel & Simon Bromley, "Street Pussy"

Yogamaya von Hippel & Simon Bromley, “Street Pussy”

Yogamaya von Hippel and Simon Bromley’s zine, Street Pussy, is a project aimed at documenting cats on the streets of Wales and London. Recently, the pair published their first set of zines, the initial series made up of five volumes. Each issue’s theme is a different color cat in varying positions on the streets. Accompanying the cat’s photo is an illustrated map pinpointing the location where it was seen. Since the project began in 2010, Von Hippel and Bromley have photographed nearly 700 cats. Yogamaya was kind enough to send me Volume 1, featuring pictures of tortoiseshell cats.

The zine is obviously cheeky and humorous, the name adding a certain edge that sets the project apart from the masses of cute cat pictures on the internet. But Street Pussy is an art endeavor to be taken seriously as well. The zine gives away little information (the map is just a line drawing, with no street names or descriptive features), denoting that the cats pictured could be anywhere–strays–or anyone’s–pets on the loose–out-of-doors for any number of reasons. And the photos aren’t just snapshots of cute cats; Von Hippel and Bromley keep fundamentals of photography and famous street photographers in mind while composing their pictures. It’s a fun and productive project for those of us who enjoy taking pictures of other people’s animals we see in our day-to-day life. I hope to keep up with the next volumes, set to feature kitties of the black, ginger, black and white, and tabby varieties.

Follow along with the Street Pussy images at streetpussy.tumblr.com or get a copy of the zine in the Etsy shop.

Visit artist's site: streetpussy.tumblr.com

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Brandon Hall, "Museums of Unnatural History"

Brandon Hall

When I first saw Brandon Hall’s natural history museum pictures, I was highly intrigued, and not only because I had just booked my own trip to the diorama destination of my dreams where Hall’s pictures are made, New York’s American Museum of Natural History. Hall’s diorama pictures, which are made by double exposure, are about duality. On a personal level, the images portray Hall’s “dualism of the mind;” he had just relocated to New York City and his thoughts were never focused on his physical whereabouts. The doubling and flipping of the taxidermy animals is a literal representation of how Hall was feeling in his new space. He says, “I was one person but at the same time there were two different sides of me at play.” Regarding the dioramas themselves, the dualities described are between life and death, representation and caricature, natural and unnatural. The pictures created are quite unique, fascinating, and disorienting to look at.

Visit artist's site: brandonmichaelhallphotography.com

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Tytia Habing, "Blue Bird"

Tytia Habing

The first time I scrolled through Tytia Habing’s pictures, I couldn’t help but smile. The photos, from her series, The Gift, are of various flora and fauna held with an understood respect and admiration in the storied, textured hands of people of all ages. Habing’s pictures represent the miraculous act of physically interacting with nature in such a sweet, familiar way.

From the artist’s statement: Ever since I can remember, I’ve been taught to love nature. I was encouraged to explore the land we lived on, to walk through woods and wander through meadows, to treat the earth gently and respect my fellow creatures. The smallest of animals are of import, and even weeds have purpose. I now teach my son the same, that this beautiful earth is a gift we’ve all been given and it’s our job to be good stewards, not only for us, but for future generations. My hope is that these photographs reflect the love I hold for nature, and the importance of even the smallest of creatures and the most nondescript of plants.

See Habing’s many other fantastic projects on her sleek new website, designed using a Squarespace subscription awarded to her by Feature Shoot.

On that note, Feature Shoot’s current call for submissions is “photos of the zoo,” judged by me. Submit by October 17 for the chance to win a one-year Squarespace subscription, as well as your photo/s on the Feature Shoot website and promoted through their social media channels.

Visit artist's site: tytiahabing.com

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Yusuke Sakai, "Reticulatad Giraffe"

Yusuke Sakai

Yusuke Sakai’s Skin depicts the close-up surface of animals’ fur, feathers, and skin. Rich with detail, the images show an aspect of each animal unable to be appreciated from a greater distance. The color and natural patterns and textures are astounding and mesmerizing. Upon first glance, the series made me think of the work of Oscar Citutat and Linda Kuo. I’d love to have one piece from Skin, large, or a grid of many in my home.

From the artist’s statement, via LensCulture: Once, I unexpectedly discovered a photograph of an elephant’s abdomen. I couldn’t figure out how this photo was taken or why it moved me so much, but I could tell that it gave me a wonderful feeling. The impression it left on me was unmistakable. In looking at that photograph, I felt like I was seeing the skin of an elephant for the first time, while simultaneously, I knew that the sight of the skin was deeply familiar.

In this series, I photographed various animals which caught my eye at the zoo. Each of these animals interested me for their own reasons: for some, I was taken by their form or movement, others their size or strange proportions. In the end, I found that each animal was a unique assemblage of all these qualities. Although the animals fascinated me in many different ways, I decided (in homage to that elephant abdomen I had once seen) to concentrate only on each animals’ skin. By reducing the animal in time and space to a still, two-dimensional (but deeply textured) photograph, I hope that the viewer will look as if for the first time and re-discover the animals’ beauty in a new way.

Visit artist's site: sakaiyusuke.com

Found via: Feature Shoot

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Lindsay Blatt, "Herd In Iceland"

Lindsay Blatt

Lindsay Blatt is the director of the film Herd in Iceland, a documentary about the annual round-up of the Icelandic horse, isolated for centuries by the country’s oceanic borders. The film and the photo essay and accompanies it provide a beautiful look into this amazing tradition and focus on the stories of the people as well as the animals.

From the film’s synopsis: Herd in Iceland was filmed over the course of 2 years, when Lindsay Blatt traveled to Iceland to document the herders as they collected their horses across the island’s remote terrain. During the summer months, the horses live a wild existence, grazing in the highlands and raising their young. Each fall, they are rounded up by local farmers and directed across the stunning landscape. This valued tradition is a social and cultural touchstone for both the farmers who own the horses and the city dwellers who travel to the countryside to participate.
 
The horse holds a precious place in Icelandic culture, art and tradition; for over 1,000 years Icelandic law has prohibited the importation of horses onto the island. By telling the story of this annual journey, Herd in Iceland captures the symbolism behind the horses and the nation they represent.

Herd in Iceland has just started to air on some PBS stations around the US. Check the schedule or keep an eye out for it! View the film’s trailer here.

Visit artist's site: lindsayblatt.com

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