POST NATURAL HISTORY

Photography, 2012

Vincent Fournier (FR)

Post Natural History is a collection of imagined ‘upcoming living species’ presented in the form of old-fashioned encyclopaedic entries. The intention is to reinterpret the idea of the ‘cabinet of curiosity’ through a journey in time, rather than through a physical space. As during the Renaissance, when strange creatures returned with the explorers of distant and unknown countries, these images show species as ‘newcomers’ from an imagined future based on current synthetic biology research.

The species featured have been reprogrammed by humankind for man’s own needs and desires, and also so that they can adapt themselves to the biological changes of the planet. They have integrated new DNA fragments and artificial elements like metal or electronics. They have new properties to better adapt to new environments created by climate change and accompanying events such as drought, stress, disease, and predators.

These creatures are simultaneously familiar and strange: we ‘know’ the rabbit, lizard or dragonfly we see, but upon closer inspection, we realise there are certain differences. For example, the ibis has metal legs to resist extreme temperatures. The dragonfly possesses a transparent glass belly in which a luminescent sensor measures the rate of pollution. Together, they surmise how humans could intervene in evolution.

Artist's Statement

These creatures are coming from the future; an imagined future caught between memory and projection, and based on current synthetic biology research. It is important to me that my stories are based on science, so that they can potentially be true. I like to play with the idea of a true or false archive, like a Jorge Louis Borges novel with several levels of reality. Staging the pictures like encyclopedia entries fills them with confusion. It’s not clear if it’s true, if it’s not true, if it’s serious, or if it’s ludicrous.