In the Galleries: Photography, Taxonomy and Evolution

The first Thursday of each month is the day that many galleries open new shows in San Francisco, so Friday I went to see a few.

At the Togonon Gallery there is a show called Elusive Subjects which has work from James Welling, Jun Shiraoka, Sanna Kannisto and Hiroyo Kaneko.

Shiraoka: Yokohama
Jun Shiraoka, Yokohama, Japan, November 2, 1996

Kaneko: Cherry
Hiroyo Kaneko

Welling: 031, 2006
James Welling, 031, 2006

Welling’s abstract plant forms bring to mind the work of Anna Atkins at the very beginning of photographic experimentation. The difference being that Welling’s aim is to create art and Atkins’, as a botanist, aim was to make a record of the plants form for scientific purposes.

Atkins: Woodland Horsetail (Equisetum sylvaticum)
Anna Atkins, Woodland Horsetail (Equisetum sylvaticum)

From it’s earliest days photography and science have been linked. Not only through it’s mechanical and chemical nature, but through a desire to categorize and catalog. Kannisto plays with this relation by “borrowing methods of representation, as well as working methods, from the natural sciences, from anthropological and archaeological practices” when she is making her art.

Kannisto: Leptophis
Sanna Kannisto, Leptophis ahaetulla, 2006

Another reference to 19th century science (this time to Darwin) occurred at Stephen Wirtz Gallery with the non-photographic work of Misako Inaoka. Her sculpture/installation work, The Origin of Species, is a charming combination of Frankensteinian creatures living in a Seussian world.

Inaoka: Evolution Tree
Misako Inaoka, Evolution Tree, 2007

Inaoka: Feet-antler, (Deer), 2007
Misako Inaoka, Feet-antler, (Deer), 2007

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