Species is a Latin term used in the 13th Century to describe divine rays of light that were believed to emanate from God in order to create life on earth. It is used as the title for a series of photographs produced in 2005 which references fresco paintings from the Late Gothic and Renaissance period in Italy.
These black/white images continue my investigations into the history of European painting and its conceptual links to the history of photographic thinking. During the 14th and 15th Century, Italian artists like Giotto and Massacio developed a new pictorial space based on the knowledge of perspective and optics. Depicting biblical scenes they attempted to create realistic images in a realistic space, and in the process broke with the tradition of medieval art that described the world symbolically. They began to study optics and to use optical tools which set in motion a development that eventually would lead to the invention of photography in the early 19th Century.
Using discarded toy figurines the images in this series are reconstructing these Renaissance paintings and again describe scenes from the bible. As they did in the Renaissance, the tableaux often show multiple scenes in one image. However, in Species these scenes are placed in an architectural setting constructed with the help of sugar cubes.To many viewers photography is still connected to the concept of the witness, and black/white photography in particular is used as proof that an event did actually occur. Instead of witnessing an event, these images represent scenes that are as constructed as the stories they tell.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, and its arts funding and advisory body.