© 2019 Asa Mease
 

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Naturalia/Artificialia

Familiar Birds of the Pacific Northwest

Merging art history and natural history, I am invested in the cultural fabrication of objects. I investigate modes of production and reproduction through the collection and elevatio­n of particular objects, while reducing others through the use of the multiple. In this conversion the industrially produced object becomes the precious single (as one thinks of a museum specimen coming to represent the platonic Form of each species), whereas the objects produced through artistic labor mirror and mimic industrial means of production.

The focus on lowbrow distortions of biological organisms as they are simplified, squeezed, and distorted to serve cultural ends feels particularly pertinent at a moment when these same (non-abstracted) organisms experience anthropogenic exploitation and destruction. As Alfred Wallace, Darwin, and the countless other explorers once mined the bounties of nature, I too am concerned with the collection, taxonomy, and display of objects mined from a consumer environment. These birds reflect my indulgence in internet-age object fetishism through the collection of cultural refuse. To navigate websites and stores in search of representations of birds as biologists once hopped between islands to catalogue the abundance of nature. This collection is then an inventory of the biodiversity created in a globalized production system.

 

The act of collection and display becomes historic itself, revealing dominant ideologies in the arrangement and privileging of particular objects. This collection of birds is then no more representational than the illustrated counterparts in any other guide. These permutations reflect a shift in our interactions with animal forms. As these organisms transform from physical to cultural objects, there is a need for an ecological reframing that merges the biological, cultural, and personal. To walk through a museum is not to see nature, rather it is to see ourselves seeing nature.