THE DESCENT OF THE DODO.
'FOR ONCE YOU HAVE TASTED FLIGHT, YOU WILL WALK THE EARTH WITH YOUR EYES TURNED SKYWARD.'
-LEONARDO DA VINCI
In the first chapter of my three part series The Descent of the Dodo I chronicle the events leading up to the legendary disappearance of the Dodo. Despite its fame very little is known of this majestic bird; just a handful of contradictory illustrations and even fewer written accounts remain. All that can be known for certain is that within less than a hundred years of humans making first contact, the Dodo was completely gone. In this picture-play I gleefully contend that the Dodo did not go the way it is traditionally believed.
The story of the Dodo is one of frustration. Unable to achieve their most fundamental instinct - flight - they live their lives with an inveterate desire to return to the skies from which they came.They are escapists in the truest sense, and their aspirations are easily transposed onto our own desires.
The bird has long been the poster child for the perils of colonialism, with as much relevance in our own country as anywhere else in the world. Although this is not the primary motivation behind these pictures I acknowledge that the allegorical relevance of the Dodo is extensive and serious.
Whilst creating this series the scant factual information on the Dodo has allowed me plenty of room for creative exploration.The pictures draw upon a wondrous blend of art historical, scientific, and cultural references.
I build my images with my hands using textural materials such as felt that allow me to create an approximate impression of whatever it is I seek to portray.The depth and tactile nature of the scenes I create leaves plenty of latitude for the viewer’s imagination to fill in the gaps, and hopefully engage with the reality I present. I photograph my work with a documentary approach in an absurd attempt to capitalize on the traditional notion that the camera validates that which it portrays.
The absence of any photographs of the Dodo (as the technology was invented long after their departure) has also presented me with the opportunity to stake my claim as the privileged first to photograph the bird. It is with this wonder, and with the care of a scientific study that I frame the work.
The photographs presented in this show are intended as a preview of a larger work to come, a project that extends beyond the printed photograph into interactive digital media.
Stay tuned for the surprising continuation of The Descent of the Dodo…
Max Piantoni, August 2011