The art of science and the science of art.

Shoot To Kill or Aim To Embarrass?


Collared Aracari by Todd Forsgren

Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus), 2012. © Todd Forsgren

As I've pointed out before on Symbiartic, before the modern naturalist movement, nature lovers would shoot and kill the objects of their fancy to get a better look. Audubon himself would take dead specimens and pin them into life-like poses before drawing them and turning them into the prints that are so treasured today. But today's champions of the natural world take a different approach. Todd Forsgren, for example, photographs birds moments after they are caught in nets, before they are tagged and released back into the wild by the people studying them.

I imagine these magnificent birds feel much like dogs wearing the dreaded cone of shame after being neutered. Hopelessly tangled in a net, their normally smooth feathers are splayed awkwardly, their limbs are skewed and they're just plain confused. Organisms normally praised for their beauty and grace are for a moment awkward and goofy, revealing their vulnerability. It's a moment we can identify with and as such, it gives us pause.

Forsgren's portfolio

Forsgren is represented by Heiner Contemporary Gallery

Giclée prints of this ornithological series are available at 20x200

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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