Human Nature: Debbie Carlos captures objects of knowledge

Human Nature is a study done by Debbie Carlos, a photographer with a background in psychology. The photos were taken at Chicago’s Field Museum and if you’ve ever been there you know how fascinating and equally strange it is. Its been several years since I was last there and had forgotten about it until these images brought it all back to me. They capture beautifully what I felt while staring into carefully recreated environments for 100 year old shells that were once exotic animals, a sense that we humans in the pursuit of knowledge do some strange shit. I think thats something that Debbie Carlos realized while making these images which quite possibly was influenced by her years of studying psychology. Her words insightfully sum it up best,

The first time I took pictures of the animal displays at Chicago’s Field Museum, I did so purely out of interest in animals. Framing my photos so as to imitate nature photography seemed natural in an environment where the animals, long dead, are themselves placed and positioned in scenes that recreate their habitats. Once I developed my negatives, the significance of the human world, science, and ownership seemed all of a sudden very apparent in the life-like death of the creatures on display. The murky quality of the lighting and the dark desaturated tones of the exhibits, convey a sensuality and romanticism at odds with the sense of stagnant death that lingers in the cracked skin of 100-year-old taxidermied animals and birds strung up as though in flight with fishing line. Inside the museum, nature is labeled, classified, and static, turned into an object of knowledge. These photos attempt to capture the mystery and romance of this very pursuit—the sincerity of the scientific endeavor, the pathos of its visible failure, and the beauty of the attempt to engage with nature.

I think this is another wonderful example of one field of study influencing another, much like MORPHOLOGIC‘s meld of music and marine biology.

You can purchase some of these as prints from her Etsy shop here. Show her some love.


No comments yet,

Share your thoughts

Think or Smile | Nathaniel Whitcomb © 2010