Back in March at SPE in Baltimore, I really enjoyed seeing Thomas Brennan’s talk about his photogram work. Brennan has a couple of comprehensive series exploring camera-less photography, the subjects of which being museum objects that range from natural history specimens to scientific models. The photographs explore the practice of creating images from absence, vantage point, conceptual abstraction, and visual form. I personally notice a connection to paper cut-outs by artists like Matisse, particularly in the last image of the Arctic Loon, which is lovely. I also think of one of my favorite artists, Terry Evans. The shape of animals when prepared as research specimens is always so interesting, and somewhat off-putting.

From the artist’s statement: Photogenic drawing is the term given by William Henry Fox Talbot in the 1830s to his first photographic images on paper. Contemporaneous with Fox Talbot’s development of a negative-positive photographic process was the increased use of taxidermy to display specimen birds in natural history collections. Birds that date from this early period of museum displays often reveal the animated poses, pedestals, and taxonomic tagging prevalent at that time. “Collecting Feathers: Photogenic Drawings of Birds from Natural History Collections” is the result of straightforward combinations of objects and light-sensitive surfaces. Choices made during the imaging process result in a set of allusions that are the product of the recording process and the birds.

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