BAYarts hosts 'Ornithological Photographs' during November

In this Todd Forsgren photograph, a keel-billed toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus) is caught in a net for scientific study.

The images from Todd. R. Forsgren's "Ornithological Photographs" exhibition display birds that have been momentarily caught in mist nets. Scientific research is then able to be collected and applied by biologists.

Forsgren says he is drawn to the idea of seeing birds before they become "known" by the measurement numbers that scientists will use to define it. "My photographs are ... a reflection on our desire to name, classify, and quantify diversity."

Mist nets act like huge, invisible spider webs to detain birds. Much like fences, the nets catch birds but inflict no physical pain. "During this moment, the birds inhabit a fascinating conceptual space between our framework of ‘the bird in the bush and the bird in the hand.’" Forsgren's works has allowed him to study a detailed emotional component. "The captured creatures are embarrassed, fearful, angry, and vulnerable."

After being measured, aged, sexed and banded, these birds are then released back into the wild. And this is where Forsgren's photographs live on, past that moment. "I hope that my images are a reflection of the struggle to gain this intimate data and the different ways that this information can be used to create abstract understanding of these species. As the data gathered by scientists grows, it can offer profound insights. When depicted by these complicated numbers, the individual birds become abstracted and we can consider ideas about populations and species. This intimate knowledge is a powerful tool that is used to make decisions about conservation and answer other ecological questions."

Accompanying the exhibition, Forsgren will be signing his newly published book featuring the complete 57-image portfolio. An opening reception will be held Friday, Nov. 6, 7-9 p.m. A gallery talk will be on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2 p.m.

Nancy Heaton


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Volume 7, Issue 21, Posted 10:06 AM, 11.03.2015