on pdfs or, on describing nature using unorthodox points of refernce

You’ve been sent this article from the New York Times of 1910.
It’s a peculiar offer, yet, you liked the story of an amateur ornithologist of the turn of the last century, who by observation alone, presented the Thayer Theory.

After 25 years of research grounded on “description rather then observation” of Crows, gulls, warbles and swallows, Thayer pubished ‘Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom: An Exposition of the Laws of Disguise Through Color and Pattern‘.
Thayer made public his findings first in a couple of articles in the Ornithological Journal, published by the Smithsonian Society in 1898.

Turn of the century stuff, when a man can claim:
‘[...] while protective coloring in animals is considered as belonging to the province of the zoologist, it properly belongs to the realm of pictorial art, and can be interpreted only by painters’

Well, from a point of view of someone like you, trying to put forward an environmental argument through an art forum, this is great stuff.
Using a quote like that as a ‘voxpop’ to be inserted in various contexts..
Yet what fascinates you is the person behind, who you’d like to investigate more.

Mr Abbot H. Thayer who, as an amateur, follow a passion and present it in official scientific forums..

Art and science, though wedded in the names of some colleges, are nevertheless commonly thought as two. Aristotle’s famous definition of art as a habit of production in conscious accordance with a correct method could double as a definition of science, certainly if a word of ‘investigation” were substituted with “production”

“Abbot Handerson Thayer was one the great American artist of the end of the nineteen century. He was a founder and president of the Association of American Artists, and one of his painting usually held the place of honor at the society’ annual show. [...]
He was much sought after as a portrait-painter, but preferred paint landscape, children and picture of ideas.”

Thayer is now a major publishing and software developing company too, see here for deatails

About info

Diego Bonetto is a multimedia artist living and practicing in Sydney, Australia, and is a key member of artists' collectives SquatSpace and the BigFAGPress. -The SquatSpace collective has been producing ground-breaking events and projects since 2000. The group has been curated in a number of shows both in Australia and overseas. The current initiatives, the Redfern-Waterloo Tour of beauty (www.squatspace.com/redfern) tackle issues of social representation and the politics of space generated by gentrification. -The BigFagPress (BFP) is a publishing facility housed in Wooloomooloo, Sydney. The BFP is a salvaged 4-tonnes Off-set proof press. The press allows for the creation of countless artworks by keen printmakers and self-started publishers. www.bigfagpress.org Diego has also been working with WeedyConnection, an environmental art campaign. The project involves an online resource (www.weedyconnection.com), short documentary films, cooking shows, blogs, installations, prints, facebook interventions and various site-specific installations in the form of self-guided tours. WeedyConnection tackle the anthropocentric view of what environment should look like. Based on research and data provided by disciplines as far apart as biology, anthropology, paloenthology, social ecology and ethno botany it formulates ethical questions about cultural representation in times of environmental urgency.
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One Response to on pdfs or, on describing nature using unorthodox points of refernce

  1. mayhem says:

    Hey weed-man,
    I presume you know about French surrealist ethnographer Roger Caillois and his work on natural history. Mimicry and Legendary Psychaesthenia is one of those classic essays that get bandied about at art school – but I reckon he’s always worth a look – discussing the wider/wilder implications of animal camouflage……

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