VVP: Art 434 & Engl. 410

Website for Vision Voice and Practice: An Interdisciplinary Course in Art and Creative Writing

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Spot Collaboration: Maximilian Tomozei & Sources Out of Context

A few weeks back, VVP went to the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History. One of the goals of that trip was to spend time in the halls of animals, where various critters and their habitats are recreated in life-sized dioramas. The point of these displays is pretty explicit: To allow the public to encounter animals they may never see in real life, and to teach about the human-driven threats those animals face. The things are also enchanting:
 A recent post in Buzzfeed profiled recent work by the photographer Maximilian Tomozei, entitled "Stilled Life." As the post's author Kate Bubacz puts it,
There are over 10,000 species threatened with extinction worldwide, a number that’s difficult to fathom. Maximilian Tomozei's work explores this notion with poignancy, looking at common animals that are preserved in museums as treasures worth sharing. The images play with the idea of loss and preservation as the dioramas themselves veer into both the elegant and absurd. Even the most carefully prepared animals look out of place in the stagnant landscapes, a potent reminder that the desire to keep something past its time is often futile — and that it’s better to preserve the animals while they are still alive.
Last week, we looked at some of Tomozei's work in class, noting how his photographs--unlike the samples from the L.A. museum, above--eliminate the context (the museums) where the scenes actually take place. Tomozei himself explains his method: "I frame each subject trying to cut off most of the clues regarding its synthetic character, in order to create the illusion that the pictures are actual wildlife photographs."

Tomozei's captivating and admirably motivated work inspired a spot collaboration assignment, where our students were asked to recontextualize an object, a piece of language, or something else, make an image (or video) of it, and then share it with us. They had about twenty minutes to work in groups of two and three. What follows are the results.  [Click on the images to enlarge them.]




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