joel conison, photography

Birds in Portrait

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from the original Birds in Portrait series
american white ibis
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the New Songbird series

This group of photographs captures the natural beauty of birds in an unnatural environment.

All of these birds are taxidermic specimens. On one hand the taxidermic creatures allowed me to work with, to approach, to handle them in a way that living creatures would not have tolerated. On the other, the process of taxidermy, by definition, had removed the very essence of their fleeting existence. Without a doubt they had become objects and yet there remained something elusive. I realized that as a photographer I couldn't treat them as I would have treated wild birds in nature. Indeed I didn't want to treat them as birds at all but rather in terms of a statement on the human interaction with nature -- first in terms of my own interaction with these object/animals and second as a more encompassing commentary.

I choose to create portraits of these creatures not as a type of anthropomorphism but in keeping with Aristotle's statement that, "the aim of art is to present not the outward appearance of things, but their inner significance; for this, not the external manner and detail, constitutes true reality." I have photographed them in portraiture, in a way similar to how I would have photographed a human candidate. Their gaze meets the viewer's directly and without hesitancy; they are as nature has created and also as mankind has altered. As humans expand their presence on earth it remains incumbent that we preserve a place for animals. It is our responsibility as "care taker" to provide such a space and place.

These images were captures digitally and the darkroom work was done in Photoshop. All prints were made with an archival pigment ink set consisting of six shades of gray and black, printed on Hahnemuhle paper.

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