A beetle with GPS in its antenna and an insect with spring-loaded legs are part of Vincent Fournier’s cabinet of species: at first sight normal animals, who on the basis of evolutionary genetics, have miraculously transformed in order to adapt to the future’s changing environment.
In the work of the French photographer, Vincent Fournier, science features prominently. Since visiting the Palais de la Découverte in Paris as a young boy, the wonders of the world, such as astronomy, space travel, geology, biology and physics, have continued to fascinate him.
These preoccupations are featured in his project ‘The Man Machine’ – in which he photographs robots interposed in everyday life situations in Japan, resulting in startling images. In 2012, he travelled to Brasilia, the utopian city in Brazil, where he documented its citizens and the modernist architecture of Oscar Niemeyer.
Fournier’s project, ‘Post Natural History’, which is based on current research regarding synthetic biology and the reprogramming of stem cells, will be presented at the Ravestijn Gallery. It is a mesmerizing cabinet of species.
After photographing the taxidermy models in situ, Fournier showed his pictures to a specialist in evolutionary genetics. Following those discussions, he imagined how these species would evolve in real time, adapting to the future’s changing environment.
Fournier collaborated with a team of specialists at a 3D imaging laboratory in Brussels to have his imaginary evolutions super-imposed onto the photographs of the various species.
The results include a collection depicting a lizard with reflective scales, a beetle with GPS in its antenna, and an insect with spring-loaded legs.
As Fournier likes the idea to make pictures that are not readily identifiable, which remain ambiguous, he did not want the transformations to be over-stated.
For example, in the image of the rabbit only his left eye is replaced with an human eye. Thus, the viewer is not certain whether these species are real or not, or even when and how they were made. For Fournier, it important that the species themselves are objects of strange beauty, with the reasoning of the transformation being uncertain.
‘Post Natural History’ questions the frontier between the living and the artificial in an aesthetic way. Scientific questioning has always nourished Fournier’s work, but more for its poetry than the actual physics. “I use science to re-enchant the world with magic and beauty”.