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Photographer's Showcase: Traer Scott -- Natural History

New to the Photographer's Showcase -- Natural History by Traer Scott
Pandas, 2010 -- Traer Scott
The museum diorama has been garnering attention from a number of photographers recently, but Traer Scott's take on the subject stands out. Natural History is a series of curious images, scenes from natural history museums across the United States depicting not just the carefully presented dioramas that are always a huge attraction, but also the world that buzzes around these infinitely still scenes. The first of these images taken by Scott was a mistake -- a reflection of her husband appeared when photographing a diorama of an ostrich. But a few months later, Scott began attending natural history museums looking for just this occurrence -- when the human world outside interacts with the artificial wilderness inside on the surface of the glass that divides them.

They are spooky images, though what is happening is quite instantly recognizable when taking a closer look. We've all caught these moments in our sight, but they are typically fleeting -- distractions solved by an adjustment of the eye. But by focusing on them, suspending them in photographic time, these brief interactions speak to the complexity of our human relationship with animals and nature. The animals are frozen, the images of their living admirers just ghostly reflections on the glass that separates these intricate facsimiles of the wild from the well-planned and maintained museums in which they are contained. With the humans trapped in mere refelction, a role reversal takes place -- it is the animals who have more substance, stuffed and stuck in their posed post-mortem positions. Though alive, the humans assume the translucent spectral form, haunting these dead creatures in the fabricated approximations of the environments in which they met their ends.

But still there is something more, a personal element resonates. Scott has captured something typically hidden by the spectators orientation towards the diorama -- the expressions of awe and fascination. These creatures and their manufactured worlds are simply mesmerizing, and while humans are largely responsible for the demise of the species pictured, we are also captivated by them. Caught in the mirror of glass is an intimate human moment -- the private gaze from viewer to animal, one that is not meant to be seen by anyone but the creature who cannot return it. -- Sarah Bradley

Rinoceras -- Traer Scott
Scott came to the Photographer's Showcase as selected from PhotoLucida's Critical Mass Top 50. View her Natural History portfolio on the Photographer's Showcase here.

For more information please contact photo-eye Gallery Associate Director Anne Kelly by email or by calling the gallery at (505) 988-5152 x202