Here are some interesting thoughts from the introduction to a new favorite coffee table book called Bird Watching by Paula McCartney.
I saw the book in a shop some time back and have had my eye on it since. I finally recently added it to my collection. The photos are very pretty and I was shocked when, after opening up the packaging and starting to explore its insides, I discovered McCartney's photographed world is a fake! Not a single real bird is depicted, but rather cheap craft store replicas. After a few incredulous moments, I laughed out loud and read the introduction. In it, Karen Irvine, the curator of the Museum of Contemporary Photography, offers a refreshing and fascinating discourse on how we hope to encounter nature and the role photography plays. She questions our motives and applauds McCartney's work as a tongue-in-cheek and whimsical exploration of our attitudes.
For those of us who love and frequent Instagram, dumping bajillions of pictures of our encounters with the world onto Facebook, I think the below thoughts are incredibly important. Are our expectations of nature honest? Do they need to be in the first place? It's good food for thought, so I'm passing on this paragraph, though I definitely encouraging you to check out the book itself.
"While the pristine natural settings McCartney photographs are already picturesque, she was looking for something more: 'I wanted to make the landscapes more romantic, more idyllic,' she explains. Like many painters throughout history, McCartney creates fictions at will, and uses birds as symbolic, beautiful elements within a controlled composition. And like the doves who repair Cinderella's dress in Walt Disney's movie, her passerines are friendly, feel-good additions to the landscape. McCartney's pictures reveal a strong need for the fulfillment of an ideal. In this respect they call forth broader issues concerning our relationship to nature and wildlife: What are our expectations when we approach the natural landscape? Are we always waiting for certain romantic experiences to punctuate our wandering, such as a deer running by or a perfect snowflake landing on our mittens? To what extent are we trying to satisfy a preexisting image of nature that we carry in our minds? And what role does photography play in fixing these images and desires in our consciousness?"