Tag Archives: Animals

Pictures of the Week: September 28 – October 5

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From the U.S. presidential debate in Denver and a ferry disaster in Hong Kong to Europe’s unbelievable Ryder Cup comeback in Illinois and a tiger cub at theShanghai Zoo, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

Imagining the Future Animal

Vincent Fournier is a photographer of the future—both the one that’s actually happened, and the science-fiction future that we hoped would come to be. In his earlier work, the French artist plucked robots out of laboratories and staged portraits of artificial life forms like Sony’s Asimo going about their business in the human world, drinking from a water fountain or playing basketball. In his sprawling “Space Project,” Fournier—who used to visit the Paris museum of science as a child—traveled to world’s centers of space exploration, places like the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia and NASA’s venerable Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Fournier’s photographs make the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah look like the forbidding alien landscape it was meant to stand in for, while his shots of technicians in bubble-helmeted space suits are mined from the same visual vein as Stanley Kubricks’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. These are glimpses of Tomorrowland, the space age that never quite took off. Even his work on Brasilia—the custom-built capital of Brazil, that perpetual “country of the future”—show an obsession with classic visions of tomorrow, with humankind’s effort to bring the universe to heel. “I love machines, the ones that fly, speak, count or observe,” Fournier has written. “I’m fascinated by the magical aspect of science, which seems to reduce the complexity of the world to a few mathematical formulae.”

In his new work, Fournier is still looking to the future—to the hard lines of the man-made—but he’s moved to things that are living. Or at least, things that may live. In his “Engineered Species” project, part of his recently released book Past Forward, Fournier explores how life itself tinkers with its own design, changing DNA to make species better, faster and stronger. Fournier took pictures of taxidermy specimens—stuffed and pinned animals—and brought them to animal geneticists to find how these species were evolving in real time as the environment, thanks largely to human action, keeps changing.

The result are new engineered species like a global warming-tolerant pangolin, a rodent-like Asian mammal with a tougher keratin skin that enables it to maintain a constant body temperature, even in a hotter climate. An ibis—a long-legged wading bird—evolves longer, stronger claws that help make it more resistant to both drought and frost. A rabbit—one that stares at the viewer with expressive blue eyes—is engineered for higher intelligence thanks to neural stem cell treatment.

None of these species are real yet, and like Fournier’s earlier space-age work, they may turn out to be a vision of a future that does not come to pass. But I doubt it. We’re already on our way to engineering new life forms, to tinkering with the DNA of the species around us—and eventually ours as well. We may have no other choice—the environment is changing more rapidly than wildlife can adapt to, and the result is a wave of extinction happening faster than any this planet has witnessed for millions of years. For nature to survive, it may have to become artificial—though even Fournier, who says he loves machines, has his doubts about our ability to control these metamorphoses. “The universe is not as well ordered as our machines,” he writes. “It acts in an irrational, chaotic, violent and mysterious way, and even though there are computers that can design our forests, the control remains artificial.” Our engineering, after all, can exceed our wisdom.

Vincent Fournier’s limited edition monograph Past Forward was recently released by IDEA BOOKS.

Additionally, Fournier’s photographic work will be on display as part of the Les Rencontres d’Arles photography festival in France through September.

Amy Lombard, Grandma June

Amy Lombard, Grandma June

Amy Lombard

Grandma June,
, 2010
From the My Life With Animals series
Website – AmyLombard.com

Amy Lombard was born and raised just outside of Philadelphia, PA. In 2008, she moved to New York to pursue her BFA in Photography from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, and is exhibiting work internationally.

TEAM Animals: Leopards and Chimps and Birds, Oh My!

Photographs of elephants deep in the Ugandan jungle, leopards in the Ecuadorian rain forests or jacquacus in a national park in Peru have never been seen like this before. Caught without the presence of a human photographer, animals were captured alone in their homes as part of an initiative by TEAM, the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring Network. Since 2007, TEAM has installed cameras in the middle of remote areas all over the world to collect data on local animals and climate with hopes of monitoring local trends in tropical biodiversity to provide early warnings about climate change.

The result is a series of candid black-and-white images that give a truly up-close look at animals in their natural habitats. The process begins with camera installation, itself a laborious task: fieldworkers go into the jungle or forest without trails, often walking for days to get to the desired location. After installing the camera in a predetermined location, the workers test its functionality and return 30 days later to retrieve the technology. Cameras take between 3,000 and 20,000 images at each installation site and record the time, date and moon phase, as well as the f-stop and exposure of the film, while workers later identify the species and group series.

TEAM hasn’t discovered any new species to date, but they have found animals previously unknown to a particular area. For example, in Costa Rica, the Central American Tapir was thought to be locally extinct from that site, but TEAM captured photos of the tapir with babies. Likewise, TEAM was able to confirm the presence of elephants in areas of Uganda thought to be without the mammal for years.

In the future, TEAM hopes to expand the number of sites from 17 to 40 locations. At a macro level, the organization disseminates information to global leaders and plays an active role in the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. On a local level, TEAM works with partners to develop products that help them manage their forests and parks, including changes in the abundance of species and overall animal communities. And only five years into the project, there’s no telling what information—and images—are yet to be discovered.

The Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network is a partnership between Conservation International, The Missouri Botanical Garden, The Smithsonian Institution and the Wildlife Conservation Society, and partially funded by these institutions and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. More information about TEAM can be found here.

Special #005: Xavier Lucchesi

Photography without a lens? Xavier Lucchesi, 1959, France, uses X-rays and the most efficient scanners to create his bizarre images. He makes images while going through the matter of small and large objects, from animals, bodies, paintings of Picasso to entire trucks. Even though X-ray goes straight through matter it still shows various details of the objects, sometimes revealing secrets invisible to and hidden from the naked eye. Xavier shows us what we can only imagine but also creates a new reality, one that is based on solid objects becoming fantastical entities. His work has been exhibited on numerous occasions, mainly in Europe and Asia. The following images come from the series Radioportraits, Automates and Trafic.

Intrigued to see how he will approach his future projects and what they will reveal to us.
Website: www.x-lucchesi.com

Special #005: Xavier Lucchesi

Photography without a lens? Xavier Lucchesi, 1959, France, uses X-rays and the most efficient scanners to create his bizarre images. He makes images while going through the matter of small and large objects, from animals, bodies, paintings of Picasso to entire trucks. Even though X-ray goes straight through matter it still shows various details of the objects, sometimes revealing secrets invisible to and hidden from the naked eye. Xavier shows us what we can only imagine but also creates a new reality, one that is based on solid objects becoming fantastical entities. His work has been exhibited on numerous occasions, mainly in Europe and Asia. The following images come from the series Radioportraits, Automates and Trafic.

Intrigued to see how he will approach his future projects and what they will reveal to us.
Website: www.x-lucchesi.com

Colleen Plumb, Outdoor World

Colleen Plumb, Outdoor World

Colleen Plumb

Outdoor World,
Portage, Indiana, 2008
From the Animals Are Outside Today series
Website – ColleenPlumb.com

Among other projects, for the past fifteen years Colleen Plumb has been working on a series of photographs about animals and the myriad ways that we’ve integrated them into our lives. Her photographs have been exhibited nationally and internationally and are held in public and private collections such as the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Milwaukee Art Museum, Southeast Museum of Photography, Fidelity Collection in Boston, and the Girls' Club Collection in Florida. Plumb’s work has been widely published. Her first monograph, Animals Are Outside Today (Radius Books, 2011), was named a 2011 Notable Book by PDN. She teaches in the Photography Department at Columbia College in Chicago.

Behind the Cover: Animal Friendships

To shoot this week’s TIME cover story about animal friendships — which you can read here — photographer Catherine Ledner called on years of experience of hanging out with cute critters, including her work on two books of animal photography, Animal House and Glamour Dogs. But this shoot offered something new, even for the animal pro. Most of Ledner’s work involves pictures of singular animals, while TIME’s portfolio features animal pairs. “I had to make sure that the dogs that were coming were actually friends,” she says.

With that criterion in place, Ledner found that shooting pairs of animals was no more difficult than shooting them one at a time. Like human models, the animals brought their own personalities to the set and Ledner was able to capture the interplay of those forces. Also like human models, the animals brought entourages (a.k.a. trainers) who kept the stars focused on the task at hand—and who conveniently stepped aside when Ledner wanted to let her subjects off the leash, so to speak.

But unlike human models, the animal managed to make the group shots look effortless. “If you’re shooting a group of people, you have an agenda of who you want looking in the lens and who you don’t,” Ledner says. “To get everyone to look good at one time is harder than it is, I think, when you have a bunch of animals.”

Which is not to say that the photographer’s sessions with her animal models were all fun and games. Ledner—who owns three dogs, two cats and four rabbits, but does not frequently photograph her own pets—says that animal photography requires putting cuddliness aside. While people may get relaxed and happy with background music and a festive mood, quiet is important to help a dog (or a bird or a rabbit, as the case may be) maintain his concentration. Luckily, almost all of the animals that participated in TIME’s cover shoot were seasoned professionals. One dog named Billy had sat for Ledner twice in the past. The only non-professional at the session was the rabbit, who was, in fact, a real friend of Billy’s. “The rabbit was so docile. It would let the dog put its head smack dab on top of it. There was just total trust between these animals,” says Ledner. And the photographer was hardly upset about shooting an amateur model: “The bunny’s only six weeks old—and how can you be a pro bunny?”

Catherine Ledner is an American photographer based in California and author of two books: Animal House and Glamour Dogs. See more here.

Read more in the magazine: The Science of Animal Friendships.