Last weekend, for my first event, I went to the Museum of Photographic Arts (MoPA) in Balboa Park, San Diego. Their center exhibit was The Beauty and The Beast: The Animal in Photography. Basically, it was a collection of portraits of animals – many of which reminded me of the medicine unit from class – in celebration of the San Diego Zoo Centennial.
Beauty and the Beast: The Animal on Photography exhibit
One of the first pieces I saw was of a preserved human muscle skeleton (much like those in the Body Worlds exhibit) among encased animal bone skeletons of various species typically found in a zoo. It made me question why Gunther von Hagens’ body-preserving technique was only used on the human while the animals where simple skeletons. The piece seems to contrast humanity against other living organisms by putting the human body at the forefront of the animals and highlighting it with blood red muscle against tan animal bone. I think the photograph reinforces amazement at all living body structures while reinforcing our own human dominance.
Flayed Man (2005), Richard Barnes
Another cool piece was of a fully preserved alligator (or crocodile, I don’t know the difference) in what looks like a taxidermy office. Again, I was reminded of the practice of body-preserving we went over in the medicine unit.
Me with the alligator/crocodile
One of my favorite pieces, however, connected more so to the math unit. In one corner of the exhibit there were two small photos of reptilian skeletons, alongside a pair of blocky, wooden glasses. Intrigued, I put them on, and when I looked at the photos, what I had previously seen as two 2D identical skeletons now appeared as one 3D skeleton. I read up a little bit on these glasses (actually called stereoscopes) and found out that these were the foundation for 3D technology. It’s pretty cool to imagine that over a century ago, people would use these to visualize scientific and mathematical models.
Me and Animal Kingdon Reino Animal (2014), Jim Naughten
I would really recommend seeing this exhibit if you have the chance. Beyond the types of photos I included in this blog, there was also a nighttime section, which, fitting to its name, had dimmed lighting and didn’t allow flash photography. I found these night scenes very beautiful and inspiring. There was also a small niche of interactive objects, including a mirror that recreates your portrait using other people’s faces as pixels. I got a big sense of connectivity seeing myself as a composite image of other human beings.
Me and my mom through Self-Reflection