Buceros bicornis by Peter Tonningsen



This image is from my series, Descent which is an immersion into the visual pathos of an analytical world; a mournful ballad resulting from a marriage of art and science that began when I was invited to come to U.C. Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology to draw from their collections for artistic inspiration. I was immediately elated with the promise of this opportunity as I am generally interested in the mystique of science and the ideals and process of collection. Enthralled with the abundance and diversity of specimens preserved here, especially the bird samplings, I have primarily been working with this archive to create a series of non-ornithological specific collages that seeks to enliven and renew these perished birds while concurrently celebrating the astonishing visual allure of this collection.

I call this series Descent because it refers to what has befallen these lovely creatures: a requiem of sorts commemorating their loss of life and flight in favor of being eternally grounded for the sake of categorical examination. There is no scientific or analytical worth to this series, but instead it is intended to accentuate the often-overlooked beauty and substance inherent in such postmortem scientific study and compilation. I am particularly drawn to how these specimens take on new importance through my composites. Collaged with images of specimens from other departments and information extracted from field notes, histology slides, maps, and scientific texts obtained from MVZ archives, each bird is available for closer scrutiny and speculation about its particular history, story and station in this collection.

Most of the imagery utilized in this series comes from direct scans of the specimens and records. I have been exploring the use of a flatbed scanner as a means of image making for the past few years and am excited about how this tool challenges the traditional definition of a photograph. Made without a camera, film, or paper coated with light-sensitive emulsion, I never imagined that I could make photographs without these essential components or that I would be working in this manner when I started photography years ago. I am drawn to the physicality of this process and the immediacy and tactile nature this form embraces. Looking at these images, I feel as though I am under the specimen itself: in contact with it, touching it, sensing its weight, volume and texture, and I find that visceral quality curious and thrilling.

Website: Peter Tonningsen


45 thoughts on “peter tonningsen – buceros bicornis”

  1. “Well, this is different…” the thought streams across my consciousness in a mist of questions, and amidst many questions…

    I am predicting many a debate among many issues…the majora and queen bee be surrounding the idea and notion that scanned imagery and collage from records not recorded by said artist can be presented as “photography” here on this forum, or anywhere, is not relevant, or, rather, applicable to the type of work that BuRN seeks to promote. (I know that it is not intended to be seen as photography by Peter Tonningsen, but I can see and hear the debates and heatedness that this thread will start)… I see the minora being the debate about whether it is right to submit work such as this (meaning, not even photographed by said artist and presented on a photography forum) and take credit for it.

    I think that collage work and scanning are completely relevant, and hard to achieve in seeking the look presented here. Many will probably argue this point, but I will argue that Peter’s point is the BIRDS and everything encompassing them (their beauty, history, tactileness, science, and relevance to us).

    Having said these things, I admit it must be a bold move to publish a post such as this (aren’t we always appraising DAH for pushing the envelope?), but I think it also thinking outside the box and pushing buttons…Who is going to get pissed at this one? I’m not mad, I think it’s quite appropriate for scientific, promotional, educational, and historical reflection and research…using our technology to advance the study and importance of history (does that make sense?) is a whole other debate…

    Anyway, this piece, viewed as photography, admittedly it is not. So, what do you fellow BuRNERS think?

  2. panos(protagoras)

    I love it
    I love it
    I love it
    I love it
    I love it
    I love it
    I love it(•7)= …

  3. panos(protagoras)

    Tall versus pride…
    Going back home..
    Going back home..
    Going back home..

  4. panos(protagoras)

    And when it comes to Kitzch ( spell it for me..please..)
    Except from Marilyn Monroe.. I think of.. No..not David Bowie..
    Who is the one I’m thinking of??
    Ok… I got it..
    Marilyn Manson…

  5. panos(protagoras)

    Cortex… Vortex…
    That’s where I’m “relating” to…
    Maybe it’s the poor neighborhoods of LA..
    like Whittier for example..
    where kids… Usually seeds from Michoacan
    Unfortunate workers .. Working on fields..
    Landscapers.. Toilette cleaners..
    Suvianda grocery shoppers.. PFP customers…
    Bathroom with no tollette paper…
    Lovers that ask for check before you even got paid..that’s my reality..

  6. panos(protagoras)

    Can anyone explain to that
    NEW mean Borgia Troll in my life that I’m a hard worker?
    Can someone tell that Borgia dissmisive Troll that while he is
    Attacking me..Wasting his precious shooting time “Reading” my bullshit..he should…tell him that…
    That I’m finished my second stupid “book”..
    I’m talking too much…
    I know..
    I know..
    But all that shit happens after Im done with my work..
    Show me respect..
    Show me your work..
    Tell me about your pain floko…
    Your only contribution so far is attacking me..
    Fair enough.. But..
    Can you attack me with pictures?
    With YOUR photos..
    I really don’t doubt it..
    But can you?
    Here is your chance..
    Take it or leave it little biatch..
    Go ahead..
    Go ahead ..
    Prove it…
    The whole world is waiting Troll Man…
    Big Hug

  7. This is great imagemaking and story telling in one hit. Scientific documentation turned into art, enables the subject to be removed from it’s clinical statistical surroundings and turned into an accessible visual story. This is quite an achievement.

    The bird has been set against a context of a larger collection or study of animals which seems to suggest the animals pasts were somehow intertwined in the living world. I don’t know if this is the case, or if it is simply that their details are held within the same museum, a little confusing for me.

    Just because a camera wasn’t used doesn’t stop it from being photography. A scanner is a camera by another name (there is a lens and a chip).

    Check out those guys in Iraq who used the light leakage into armoured vehicle to expose onto photographic paper, is that photography? I guess so, it is the same principle as a pinhole camera.

  8. nice idea but it doesn’t seem very refined/finished, if you see what i mean? i’d reccomend checking out Stephen Gill’s “Hackney Flowers” for some really beautiful collage work. There has obviously been some thought put into this image, but i just kind of feel that the execution doesn’t quite match up with the idea – i think its the hard lines – the almost brutal placement of the bird on the backdrop, in a way that seems artificial as opposed to natural. does this make sense?

  9. I do have to agree with Ben that the execution could use a little more working on. It does seem artificial because you either would expect the bird to cast some sort of shadow or to be further separated from the background by some means. The image does in fact look like not quite finished yet.

    Nice idea though. :-)

  10. I dont know. Its a collage, therefore shadows and such dont really seem that important to me. But then i dont really look at that much of this type of work so I dont really know whats expected of it.
    As an image without the baggage of language I find it okay. The cutout bird does seem a little hard and im not sure what purpose the vignette serves but they dont really bug me that much. Not sure what else to say really.

  11. happy, very happy, to see Burn showing and photographers submitting work that challenges the preconceptions of photography….i’ve looked at your website: poetic, intelligent, challenging (a la jetee), formally beautiful and inspired…enjoyed it alot :))

    I also enjoy that you’re exploring the mechanics of a scanner :))…I’d like to see the series in it’s entirety…the pic reminds me of Nick Bantock books ‘The Griffin and Sabine” triology collages. for me, what is interesting is the interplay between the background (which in a sense I am much more drawn to visually and iconographically) and the bird, as if the notation/description is really this bird’s diary: a contorion of both Audobon and our scientific ‘studies’ of creatures: a clever and intelligent inversion. The use of a scanner is every bit as legitimate, and a scanner IS a camera, absolutely and in fact allows for more ‘hermetic’ exploration…just as the Xerox im now using for portraits is just as interesting :))….light light light, all is light….and in many ways, here, the scanners works the same terrain as an excavation: another connection to the suject matter…

    May I politely introduce you to my friend, the artist/photographer Simon Glass. For a years, he ditched his cameras (predominantly med and lg format) and worked exclusively with scanners and found artifacts, juxtaposed with text or imagery. 7 years ago, he produced a remarkabe and beautiful body of work called Tohu Vebohu. You can see some of it here, though his website does not convey the size or the beauty of these photographs/images. The dead birds were scanned and then printed over gold leaf:

    his latest work returns to tradition lg format cameras, but you can see more of his scanned work under his series:

    10 Commandments (my least favorite of his work)

    etc etc….all at

    thanks for sharing

    all the best

  12. christina lutters

    The visual pathos of an analytical world? The background doesn’t relate to the bird. Does it? I don’t see the study that supposedly makes the dead bird beautiful and meaningful. Where’s the substance of the categorical research meticulously carried out, the reason the bird was killed? Isn’t it this substance that makes it so beautiful to the analytical world? Or is it supposed to demonstrate the bird’s station in the bigger picture? The bird once sat in a tree with that lizard? But still, then doesn’t uncategorizing the categorization–by separating the bird from its own notes–defeat the purpose of the bird? Undoing the science to make art? That’s a marriage? It sounds more like a divorce to me…

    I think I just have a problem with the text.

    The idea of the project is wonderful…I love the idea of giving the material attention and making the beauty of science obvious to non-scientists. Whatever media does that best is fine by me. I’m sure so much love went into each piece by the scientist..? creator? artist? whoever made the originals…and the love for the work shows.

    I’m confused but it’s very appealing.

  13. so..
    do the numbers represent inches,
    and the size of the bird?
    I continue to love
    how DAH challenges the viewer…
    I like the composite,
    the bird looks
    I’m curious about the field notes….
    the image..
    the process..
    what a wonderful
    educational tool….
    I could imagine
    I would learn a lot
    about this bird
    from this image..
    more so than a text book….

  14. CARRIE….

    thank you for setting up the discussion…you started pretty much where i figured this would go on this “photograph”…i am sure there will be debate over this image, but i doubt much of it will be concerned over whether or not this is “photography”….after all, your digital camera IS a scanner….

    surely the efforts of a photographer carefully placing elements together on the ground glass of an 8×10 view camera or the early sketches from camera obscura are not much different from the intent of Peter’s photograph….

    the “process” of securing an image on “paper” through reflected or projected light through a “lens” and “captured” on light sensitive material has certainly gone through many evolutions since camera obscura….

    Carrie you wrote: “I see .. the debate about whether it is right to submit work such as this (meaning, not even photographed by said artist and presented on a photography forum) and take credit for be presented as “photography” here on this forum, or anywhere, is not relevant, or, rather, applicable to the type of work that BuRN seeks to promote.” ????? hmmmm, you lost me on this one Carrie…and i did not realize i was “promoting” one type of photography or another…

    photographers have the “right” to submit here on BURN sketches from their dinner table napkin if they so desire…

    all art/life is relevant to the discussion of “photography” which is by any definition a reflection of “self” or the “environment” surrounding the “photographer”…Peter eloquently describes his joy at the tactile nature of his exercise which perhaps brings him “closer” to his subject matter than most of us who are “distanced” by traditional means….

    whether or not this image “works” for you is another issue and so our discussions will roll on…


    thank you for referencing Stephen Gill….i love his books….Gill takes “seeing” to interesting levels by pushing the envelope of PRESENTATION to new heights….and by making “minimal”photography per se in favor of his work being simply a reflection of his life and environs….seriousness of purpose and intent tends to be taken seriously….


    i am not sure whether i have seen Glass before or not….i think so..or, at least something very very similar…i can imagine the exhibition to be quite spectacular..

    cheers, david

  15. This is quite similar to a series I’m working on, also from one of the natural history museums. ( As to the use of a scanner……isn’t a scanner just a large awkward form of camera to begin with? I have seen several photographers using a scanner as a camera and producing some pretty incredible work. I liken it to using a large cumbersome viewfinder camera.

  16. I must concur with Ms. Lutters above. If the background is simply decorative, then that is a fatal flaw. Look at some Walton Ford paintings, and go from there.

    Mr. Panos,

    Same comments, different day. Talk about lazy… slacking in your job, which is to entertain us with your clown antics and silly dances.

    I have an idea, if you are going to insult anyone, why not do it in limerick form, for example:

    That Greek man from LA is so snotty
    He picks all of his words from the potty
    I know he’s a belcher
    And suspect he’s a felcher
    Which explains why his breath is so grotty

    buzzing (off)…

  17. DAVID :)))

    yes, the exhibition of Tohu Vebohu was an amazing show to see…and the work was purchased by some Museums here in Canada….the subsequent work, which hasn’t been as well received, except by a few discerning critics (the same critic who loved Marina’s picture of Moscow, which Burn will get soon), is pure conceptual: playing with imagery (stones, gones, hebrew letters, fossils) and text (hebrew and greek)…although, last year Glass return to Israel to use a lg. format camera….he sometimes looks at Burn (since i told him burn would feature bones)….anyway, some of the work was shown at Brooklyn Museum…i dont know where else he’s exhibited in NYC…but, he’s a great artist and very challenging…it’s nice to see Burn widen :))))…and especially offer readership different opportunities to re-think what constitutes photographs…i’ll continue to get folks i know, who might get hammered here, to submit :))


  18. BOB….

    well, personally i have always always my whole life been open to all forms of visual media…i happen to have chosen photography for my expression , but i never thought “photography” to be the “be all end all” of anything….and within the confines of photography my door has always been open…BURN reflects my choices from the works of readers submissions , but is not intended a compendium of all that i might choose from the world of photography….as time goes on, the breadth and depth of work submitted seems to be going up and up and so BURN will hopefully be reflecting a more sophisticated and evolving audience as we move through the year…i await your collaboration with Marina…

    cheers, david

  19. First, my thanks to burn magazine and all of you who have taken the time to offer feedback concerning my work. I am new to burn, only discovering this site a few days ago, and am excited to learn about this wonderful forum for exploring and developing dialog about photography. I am impressed with the quality and sincerity of your thoughts and would like to comment on some of these responses.

    For Erica, yes, the bird here is placed directly on top of a flatbed scanner, as is all of the accompanying information, which I have drawn from the collection. The resulting image however is not collaged on the scanner, but in Photoshop.

    Regarding Carrie’s reply, I know nothing about what kind of work burn seeks to promote, but I can emphatically confirm that I do intend this to be seen as photography. These images are photographed, recorded and created by myself and I concur with several of the comments here that scanner technology is as legitimate of a form of photographic image making as any other type of camera, or cameraless based photographs. In fact, as I suggest in my statement, I see many similarities to the process of making photograms given the direct contact with the subject matter. Adam Fuss was a great inspiration for me in this regard. I should note too that I have spent the last nine years teaching photography, primarily a course called Photo History and Concepts, which seeks to follow the linear continuum of the medium while interjecting contemporary work that looks to draw from that historical context. The main goal of my instruction in this course is to help students broaden their ideas of what a photograph is, can be, and does represent-that it is much more than the straightforward, truthful depiction of the world that so many presume it to embody. Process is frequently a way of challenging the boundaries of the medium. We see this for instance in Ackroyd and Harvery’s amazing images grown in grass, Binh Danh’s chlorophyll prints, Wendy Ewald’s photographs taken by other people, Holly Robert’s photos which are nearly or completely obliterated by paint, and Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison’s fabrications to name a few. In a humble way, I hope my works adds to this expanding dialog.

    I am very drawn to Christina’s challenge to the correlation between the background information and the bird itself and in fact I initially struggled with this discourse myself. At the onset of the project I took great care to make sure that information I extracted from the museum’s field notes, histology slides, illustrations, etc related to the specific species, and even the particular specimen itself. However, I quickly learned that this information didn’t necessarily appeal to me visually and I had to question what the point was of establishing such direct correlation. After all, I never intended for this work to have scientific worth, but rather I was interested in creating an aesthetic experience that places these specimens within the larger context of scientific collection and study. Also, the main purpose of this collection to the scientists studying here, is to study variances in species physiology and location to determine links between environment, geographic position, and cohabitation as a means of better defining evolution. It only made sense to me then to utilize the entirety of this anthology to not only enhance the visual appeal of the series, but to also establish this link to the broader ideals of collection. So in this sense, the background information is indeed very related and meaningful to the bird.

    I am especially thankful for Ian’s feedback in that I feel he has summarized and articulated my intent perhaps better and more concisely than I have. Not only has he been able to see the bird in context to the entire collection as I addressed to Christina above, but he has confirmed for me that my approach potentially succeeds in transforming “clinical” study into something more assessable and that through this process, a wonderfully implied narrative is achieved that does suggest a connection to our (and the bird’s) living world.

    I am also thankful to bb for introducing me to Simon Glass of whom I was not aware of and now share an affinity for as I think both of our works can be viewed in terms of homage or eulogy to the cycle of life. It is from this sense of tribute that my reference to pathos arises, as I am often saddened by the age and death captured in these bird’s posture or visage, yet I’m pleased to by ‘releasing” them in a sense from the confines of their internment in the drawers in which I found them.

    I think the criticism of the refinement or harshness of the birds delineation from the backgrounds is fair and is something else I struggled with. At one point I integrated these elements more by overlapping background information with the surface of the birds, blurring edges, and I even tried printing them as etchings opposed to digital prints to try an minimize this effect. However I came to appreciate the separation, as I felt it exulted the specimen more, making its display more prominent, and clarifying the fact that it is related to, yet separate from the background. I don’t follow however, Ben’s reference to Stephen Gill. This work seems very different to me; more concerned about surface, placement, and the contrast of the flowers against the found photographs as a backdrop. If anything, they seem and feel less integrated to me. Perhaps a better analogy in my opinion is the work of Jo Whaley

    I hope this all helps clarify my thinking involved with making this series and I encourage you all to spend a little more time with other images on my website. Again, thank you for your thoughts and provocative feedback!


  20. peter

    i pretty sure that stephen gill took the photographs using lo-fi toy cameras that he bought from market stalls in hackney. some of the photographs he then buried underground for significant lengths of time, before rescuing them from the soil, and then rephotographing them with the remains of flowers and other plants that he salvaged from allotments, parks, wastegrounds (and also that had been abandoned after flower markets) overlayed.

    so while at a surface level some of the images appear to be about mere placement, the final images are a combination of photographs that have “bound” with the local earth, combined with artefacts foraged from the same district. so there does exist a physical bond between the elements.

    at least thats the way i read it! this kind of work is more complex than my simple photographs!


  21. Peter :))

    my pleasure…love Binh Danh by the way…linked to his work for Road Trips (david’s old blog) 2 years ago when the disucssion of ‘what is a photograph’ came up :)))….by the way, check out simons’ work

    Cratylus….which is his juxtaposition between fossils and the Platonic dialouge about Language with Cratylus….

    Simon is also an instructor…and now Dean of the big Art School here in TO…and a close friend…feel free to write him…

    all the best

  22. So often I just have to step way back in wonder, and quietly sneak away, hopefully without stepping on any toes, while the people having a whole another life experience celebrate it, and I’m just a stupid intruder, doing nothing but trying to leave.

  23. OFF TOPIC but of possible interest to Burn Victims, sorry, don’t know where else to post dah — (spotted on susanna robb’s blog)

    Proyecto Luz seeking Volunteers to Teach Photography in Mexico
    April 7, 2009
    – Undisclosed community in Mixe region of Oaxaca, Mexico.
    – Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico, Mexico.
    – Ejido Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico

    Housing and stipend provided.


    – Fluency in Spanish REQUIRED. Individuals with little Spanish-language fluency may participate in operations.

    – Cultural sensitivity/respect and willingness to adhere to community practices/suggestions REQUIRED.

    – Previous experience working with youth strongly preferred.

    – Previous experience teaching photography/journalism preferred.

    – Knowledge of and experience with Mexican culture preferred.

    If interested, please send questions and the following materials to by May 1, 2009.

    – Letter of interest detailing previous experience working with youth and/or teaching photography.
    – Link to your website, portfolio & bio.

    Mission Statement:
    Project Luz seeks to inspire and empower youth living in communities throughout Mexico. With the help of dedicated volunteers, we provide youth with photography resources (professional mentors, instruction and equipment) necessary to encourage positive social change within themselves and their community. We understand photojournalism as a powerful tool for community self-reflection and empowerment.

    Media: (Pg. 7)

    Jasmin Lopez
    Oaxaca, Mexico: (951) 195 7880

  24. Peter,

    I’d like to see the back grounds that have a connection to the specimen. Do you have a link to those pictures that match beast and notes? For no good reason it bothers me that they don’t match.

  25. Peter:

    Last comment….are you familiar with the great and extraordinary photographer Arnaud Maggs?…Arnaud’s work is extraordinary…and my wife and i have had the great honor to meet and talk with him. In his 80’s, he’s a remarkably intelligent, tireless and creatively-restless seaker….his recent photographs, all deal with the questioning of ‘color’ and images and, well what his entire work has been about….

    take a look at Maggs’ recent work…brilliant….and agile, mind-tickling and, as challenging as any young art-school grad is producing ;)))…



  26. tech note:

    I’m viewing on a pretty standard 15″ screen — photos published on burn in portrait mode (as opposed to landscape) are unviewable in their entirety. Scrolling up and down makes for a poor viewing experience.

    I know you can’t conform to everyone’s hardware, screen size, etc., but my screen is an average laptop screen, and the photos are just about 100 pixels too long.

    I thought you were able to click on them and see them in full screen mode, but maybe that’s just for essays…

  27. JARED…

    you should be able to click on most of the singles and have them go larger…not full screen , but larger….this particular photograph being shown now is way more vertical (deeper) than most others, therefore it just does not fit exactly….i am now on a 13′ screen and it is just slightly cut…a standard format 35mm aspect ratio vertical photo should fit your screen just right….

    cheers, david

  28. Peter,

    Visually to begin with, I was a little thrown by the lack of appearance of physical contact between the bird and background ( no drop shadow etc), then I began to feel it looks like it could be an exhibition piece in a museum case with the bird raised above the background on a perspex plinth and lit seperately, which works.

    It also makes more sense as a narrative as there is only a flitting relationship between the bird and the text. The background is the environment and associated animals which the bird inhabited.

  29. DAVID :)))

    indeed, indeed, hear u loud and clear my friend! :)))

    and as for Burn, yes, as Burn grows (im literally telling as many people about it as i can, including artists/filmmakers/conceptualists,etc), it will continue to grow and reflect the diversity that is photography…couldnt be happier for you and Burn :))…..and as we discussed, when things get settled, i’ll jump in with the other stuff we talked about ;)))….as for the writing/pic collaboration, i’ve promised to finish it this week ….it has been a very very busy/intensive 2 1/2 weeks…and well, had to deal with other things…

    the be-all-end all is definitely NOT photography ;))))…we both share that vision too :))….

    and by the way, we must talk about May…i’ll call u next week, ok??…this week/weekend, need silence and i know u need rest post-workshop, middle-of-EPF….so, next weekend, i’ll call u to talk about CONTACT and visit….

    got goodie idea for u too…


  30. p.s.

    check out Magg’s work


    all viewable on the web….

    or look his early pics of my hero J. Beuys….


  31. Peter

    Welcome to burn and congrats on your project.

    What is your intended output here, are you making large prints? Scanner art, with its insane level of detail, looks amazing when printed larger than life size. It seems to pale a bit on the computer screen only a few hundred pixels in size.

    I have to agree with some of the comments that the image appears a bit “pasted on”. Perhaps a softer selection, and a quiet drop shadow would help.

    On it’s own here, I’m afraid it doessn’t hold my interest. However I’d love to see it in a gallery, big, with the others in the series, or in a large format book.

  32. DAH-

    I realize that my zooming train of thought muddled by wordiness and a late night muddied the intent of my message. I know that I was sputtering, and in doing so, thought I was gaining perspective, and therefore clarity; but, sadly, I missed. I was attempting to set up the discussion with the mindset that scanned imagery would not be seen as “photography” …not to say that I stand by that or promote this point…it is simply to say that I thought this would be argued. DAH made a great point by saying that digital imagery recorded on a digital camera is merely such: a scan. Therefore, scanned work is photography. I get that, and I agree…in the same way that my eyeballs are scanners for my memory and the way I recall imagery that I record in my brain. I didn’t think about it this way until it was pointed out to me. Thank you.

    I know that BuRN is not trying to promote any one type of work (debated much earlier about the photojournalistic aspect of the work presented here), but the point (of BuRN) is to enlighten us as to the work of emerging photographers…a sincerely bold effort, and one that continues to challenge us in the most academic and intelligent way. As for the work at hand, however, I simply anticipated a thread that would take on the challenges of scanned work…some commenters here even have challenged (in past posts) the fact that we make money off of our photography (god forbid we enjoy what we do and get paid for it!), so in that respect, I just thought the thread would go into a crazy debate.

    I try to write intelligently and thoughtfully of the work posted here, as the work and artists behind it deserve it as well as the publishers who present it. As for the work at hand, I am very drawn to work that is collaged…it fascinates me because it is a meshing of things that didn’t necessarily exist together, yet we come up with a composite that is interesting and relevant…at least to the artist. I love the effort here to gain insight into the history of biology and science and birds and organisms and life…pick a part of the circle to examine and pick apart the circle…where do we stand and how is this all relevant? This work, geared seemingly towards a scientific curiosity, is art. Thank you, Peter Tonningsen, for your brilliance and insight.

  33. CARRIE….

    you are without a doubt one of my most welcomed contributors…..i would say more my dear, but i am about to make this keyboard my pillow….

    many thanks….

    cheers, david

  34. I have no problem with the photograph or means of capture. The background is a reference to the analytical and as such is suitable. The only problem I have is the dead bird; presumably killed to provide a specimen of its species.

    I remember watching a t.v. programme some time ago which showed just-hatched baby turtles racing to the open sea. “From here” said the voiceover “We have little idea where they go”. I thought at the time “Thank fuck for that”. As a species we are inquisitive in the extreme. The upside of this is that we wander, explore, find out how things are made, go to the moon etc. The downside is that we sometimes despoil, destroy and treat other life-forms as inferior to us and thus worthy of our exploitation!

    We kill animals for food; o.k. – if the animal in question has had a good life before death then i can accept this. To kill so that an animal can be weighed, measured, classified, numbered and put in a box just chills and saddens me. It is a legacy of a hopefully bygone age. Perhaps my attitude is because I’m getting old and am more aware of my own mortality.

    Apologies for the gloom, Peter: I really do like your technique and would love to see it used on “found objects” or flowers, grasses etc. (they grow back).

    Best wishes,


  35. Kathleen Fonseca

    I like the ‘hands-on’ tactile credibility of scanner ‘photos’. I can imagine if Karl Blossfeldt was working today, this is how he’d do what he did so well. I am not at all discomfited by the fact that the background data is not relevant to the bird that’s pictured albeit the broad interconnection between species (which does seem a bit of a rationalization). In fact i especially like that the background has nothing to do with the bird. It’s the author’s personal statement versus a scientific illustration. It says to me, one species’ as good as another, long as it can be quantified. A beautiful bird, a lowly cockroach, a human being. We’re all just numbers in some data base. It only increases the sadness for me that the bird was killed to provide meaningful data to scientists who couldn’t care less that the animal might not have chosen to give his life for science. To the scientists, better a dead bird to measure than a live one that they has not been quantified. I get a distinct chill moving my eye from the clenched claw of the bird to the splayed legs of the lizard. Really, is all this killing to count necessary?

    Aesthetically, it is beautiful work Peter. I am just not sure about celebrating the sorrowful death of this vital creature in order to measure it. i think your project is very worthy. The animals will rise above their ‘death for data’ to that of art, a somewhat more distinguished epitaph.


  36. Kathleen Fonseca

    sorry…the hour is late, my eyes are crossed..Correction:
    “…than a live one that has not been quantified”

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