Out of Place

These images spring from a previous photographic project examining zoos, in particular those that have embraced the ideal of the "new" zoo or "zoological park". In an attempt to create a naturalistic context for visitors, these constructed environments pose as ecosystems or continents. They are multi-functional spaces, serving as sites of education, science, fantasy, and commerce. For the visitor, they offer a highly mediated experience of nature, capable of eliciting complex emotional and psychological responses.

The earlier photographs emphasized the human experience of these places and grew to include an examination of the broad semantics of the spaces themselves. The current work has expanded to look at various methods of creation and re-placement employed by zoological parks, botanical gardens, domestic and public landscaping and educational/research facilities. In some locations the illusion of place is nearly complete, in some it is a form of caricature, and in others it is merely suggested physically and completed through text or ancillary graphics. Though designed as manifestations of place and nature, these inventions also illuminate our beliefs and fantasies about nature. Thoughtful viewing allows us to examine the gap between.

© 2007 Katherine McVety