Today I’m posting some work that I was exposed to years ago but that I didn’t think of featuring here until recently. I learned about Jason DeMarte’s series, Utopic, in a photography class in 2009, and I couldn’t quite figure it out. I remember thinking about this work a lot; I was attracted to the pictures because many of them were made in my beloved Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and I chose DeMarte to give a short presentation about. His images are off-putting and often very bizarre (other pictures in the series I’m posting here are diptychs drawing comparisons between museum taxidermy and processed food, or feature cheese puffs and fried chicken hovering around diorama spaces). Now, after spending so much time the past few years looking at and thinking about photography that explores the role of animals in the human world, I feel differently. We look at the animal/natural world as a product to be sold to us. The experience is processed, commercial, and consumer-driven.

From the artist’s statement: My work investigates how our modern day interpretation of the natural world compares to the way we approach our immediate consumer environment. I am interested in the American modes of representing the natural world through events and objects that have been fabricated or taken out of context. This unnatural experience of the so-called “natural” world is reflected in the way we, as modern consumers, ingest products.  What becomes clear is that the closer we come to mimicking the natural world, the further away we separate ourselves from it. I work digitally, combining images of fabricated and artificial flora and fauna with commercially produced and processed products. I look at how these seemingly unrelated and absurd groupings and composites begin to address attitudes and understandings of the contemporary experience. I represent the natural world through completely unnatural elements to speak metaphorically and symbolically of our mental separation from what is “real,” and compare and contrast this with the consumer world we surround ourselves with as a consequence.

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