Animal Logic 1st Edition
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"Saturday venues will include 50 galleries all over Metro-Detroit. Saturday from 16 pm, 50 galleries from Dearborn to Grosse Pointe, and Wyandotte to Rochester, will hold events, openings and special exhibitions. At 6 pm Cranbrook Art Museum, in its temporary location at the Cranbrook Institute of Science, will host an opening for Animal Logic: The Work of Richard Barnes." -- Nicole Mannino --The South End News
"Animal Logic: Photography and Installation by Richard Barnes, the first Artology exhibition, presents a survey of the work of acclaimed New York and San Francisco-based photographer Richard Barnes. This exhibition showcases work from Barnes most recent major photographic series, most notably Animal Logic, Barnes engaging and, at times, surreal images of dioramas and artifacts from natural history museums. At the center of the exhibition will be the acclaimed project Folded Murmur, in which Barnes collaborated with video artist Alex Schweder and composer Charles Norman Mason to create an integrated photographic, projected-video, and composed sound installation based on their study of starling migration in Rome . The Folded Murmer project allows visitors to enter a space that surrounds them with the sounds and experiences of a starling migration. As a Cranbrook-exclusive component of the exhibition, Barnes incorporates new photographs taken during his exploration of the Institutes collection of over 150,000 objects distributed across nine fields of study. Objects from the Institutes anthropology, ornithology and paleontology collections will be integrated into the Animal Logic experience. Bones and other life science objects will reflect the subjects of many of the photographs. Taxidermy specimens echo diorama subjects featured in Barnes work and also explain and illustrate the process taxidermists use to create these interpretations of the natural world. Birds nests and taxidermy specimens from the Institutes extensive collection add depth to the Folded Murmer installation and offer texture to Refuge, a series of photographs of birds nests which incorporate the cast offs of humans. As a reflection upon Barnes work, the Institute of Science also re-install four of its historic dioramas, removed during construction in the late 1990s, for the duration of Animal Logic." --Artdaily
"Every evening, in a certain area of Rome, thousands of starlings perform an intricate ritual. They fly in unison in various directions, creating massive shapes in the sky, before they settle down to roost...As humans we make sense of the actions of the starlings by seeing familiar shapes in their flight patterns, or ornithologists theorize about why the act takes place, but they dont know for sure. I like that kind of duality between what we bring to it and what the animals are actually doing, says Barnes." -- Conor Risch --PDN
"Photographer Richard Barnes reveals the artifice and strange beauty of animals in a natural-history museum. Barnes has spent over a decade cataloging the way we amass, conserve, and display elements of the natural world. His new monograph, Animal Logic, matches his images of the objects behind an exhibition partially wrapped specimens, anatomical models, exploded skulls, and taxidermied animals in shipping crates with counterparts from the real world inhabited by living wildlife. Referencing science, history, archaeology, and anthropology, Barnes work offers a reminder that there is nothing inherently natural about going to a museum to see animals. In his photos, a plastic-wrapped giraffe is suspended in midair against the trompe loeil backdrop of a savannah, a pack of stuffed wolves lunges at a museum preparer inspecting blades of grass, and other creatures (leopards, emus, and bears) hang out in packing crates. Explore the artists official website, read his interview with Rosencrans Baldwin, visit the Animal Logicexhibition at Michigans Cranbrook Art Musuem, and buy a copy of the new monograph." -- Kelsey Keith --Flavorwire
"It's a critical survey of the way we see nature from inside an institution, but with the incorporation of Murmur, a 2007 multimedia installation about starling migration in Rome, the exhibition takes on a layer of graveyard meditation, too: the defiance of death through the eternity of taxidermy (hints of humanity's romance with ancient Egypt, and Barnes worked there on a dig with Yale); the creepy liveliness of a mounted stags head; the second death of a stuffed specimen taken off display; with the starlings, aspirations of eternal return." --The Night Train
"Animal Logic is also the name of Barnes just-released monograph. The book is published by Princeton Architectural Press and focuses on work done over the past 10 years, including images made during his fellowship at the Academy such as starlings performing breathtaking aerial displays above Rome, primarily shot in EUR." --Society of Fellows, American Academy in Rome
"In Animal Logic, Richard questions our exploitative relationship to the 'other than human' world. He brings a deep interest in curatorial processes to his work, challenging our conception of what should be saved and what should be forgotten or discarded. On his website he asks, simply, "Whose past is worthy of collection and preservation and whose is expendable and why?"I think it is the notion that we are already choosing who is expendable that challenges me the most...Shifting from the complex beauty of airborne starlings to haunting images of crated gazelles, Richard's work prompts me to think that time is running out for many of our most spectacular species and, perhaps in turn, for the wider ecosystem. I realize I am fearful of the day when the curator holds our memory of the natural world." -- Steve Marshall --Photo-Dialogue
"Altogether, Animal Logic constitutes an argument about what can and can't be shown using our familiar tools, and about the breadth of the field we must encompass in our attempts to gain understanding of our earthly context. All of these players and interpretive strategies have roles within the conceptual construct of Barnes' remarkable book, a profound, apt, and intelligent exploration of real world enigmas and natural science wonders." --Photo Eye Magazine
"Animal Logic a new book published by Princeton Architectural Press, is the first monograph for acclaimed photographer Richard Barnes. Focusing on his work of the past decade, and his 2004 solo exhibition of the same name, the book presents over 100 photographs that explore the collecting and display of animals in natural history museums. His measured, pensive images illustrate the process involved in creating the artificial dioramas and displays." --i before e
About the Author
Richard Barnes's photographs are in numerous public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was a recipient of the Rome Prize in 2005.
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As is typical for what is popular with contemporary fine-art photography right now the images are very conceptually driven. The artist wants us to think about these "unnatural" juxtapositions of elements and notice the human hand in constructing these fictitious "natural" displays. The photos work on several levels cerebrally. However, I found that like most conceptual work emotionally the photos were pretty one dimensional. Like a lot of contemporary work the artist tries to draw you in by showing you something novel, strange, bizarre, or shocking and then milks that theme to death. To me it gets a little tiresome though it seems to be how contemporary photographers brand themselves these days. The book and photos are interesting, well composed, thought provoking, though not a masterpiece of photography in my opinion.
A couple notes on the layout and print quality of the book. The book is a nice size for viewing. Not too small. The layout is pretty good though occasionally it bothers me. I hate double page spreads where images are stretched across the binding--often ruinng the viewing experience as part of the photo disappears in the binding and you can never really see the whole image flat. The layout does make use of double page spreads here though it is not as bad as other books I have seen. I also prefer to see images displayed in a constant size. Here some fill the page while others have a nice white boarder around them. The print and paper quality are pretty good, not amazing like some of the books I have seen the publisher Steidl print, but good enough to not draw attention to itself as a problem. Overall 4 stars.