Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Repeating Images: Two Views of Extinction

My love of taxidermy finds me in conflict with a belief in conversation. While hunting for food is fine with me, hunting for trophy is something I find somewhat troubling. Especially when the beasts that are killed are exceptionally rare.

Take, for instance, this trophy of a black rhino. As a work of art, I greatly appreciate the craftsmanship that went into preparing this mount. But I find it highly unreasonable as an object of sport. Without getting into the politics of it all, the numbers of this species dwindle down to a mere handful and soon it will vanish from the earth.

This imagined mount contrasts as my repeated image as a replica that could fool the untrained eye. While we have never laid eyes on an actual triceratops in real life, we can recreate the musculature of the body from the bare bones and create a reasonable facsimile. The model created, although composed of fiberglass, plastics, and steel and other material evokes the same feel of the rhino mount. 

Do we need a real hide to make a mount? Or can we fabricate the real thing in such a manner to deceive the untrained viewer? While the great white hunter and egoist will always pursue the rare and exploit what will be exploitable, can we placate what them with models? 

If you think about it, good taxidermy is a model of real life--nature preserved in a moment to look still alive. It isn't a dis-articulated skeleton and we know when it looks fake. Perhaps we need life-model-decoys in death.
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