NED LAGIN

SPIRITCATS.COM

NATURAL HISTORIES

When I was a kid photography was for me part of being a naturalist and scientist.

light in the silence, as my own natural history, traces back in some ways to moments of
study and discovery, and of inspiration, from when I was very young. Some general natural history visual and written influences have stayed with me.

- Museum dioramas. I loved all the animal and wild habitat and ecology dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Habitat scenes with animals and plants and beautiful painted scenery, depicting past or current worlds, moments in time. They placed the viewer at the edge of the scene, of the placetime. Each a story or many stories entangled - stories of places, animals, plants, weather, light. Simultaneously biology, geography and geology, and natural history and art and more.

- The large 19th Century American landscape paintings that I saw at The Metropolitan Museum with their fine detail and small animal and human figures; the ability to look from far away and close-up. To be outside and inside the picture. The landscapes showing nature as a revelation of spiritual meaning.

- In the late 1950's and 1960's I saw many Coloramas, said by their creator Kodak to be “the world’s largest photographs”. They were huge back-lit panoramic photographs,18 feet by 60 feet, placed in New York City's Grand Central Station, changing every few weeks. Some of the Coloramas were vast and endless landscapes, some portrayed an idealized view of life in modern America. Because of size and brightness and clarity, one felt like they were at the edge of a scene, inside the frame, the viewer's perspective was that of someone in the scene with a camera ("being in the picture" was a cultural phrase of the time).

- Finally, I was inspired and influenced greatly by reading and looking at natural history books - Rachel Carson: The Sea Around Us, Under the Sea Wind, The Edge of the Sea, The Sense of Wonder; Vinson Brown: The Amateur Naturalist's Handbook; Bertha Morris Parker: The Golden Treasury of Natural History, Gaylord Johnson: Hunting with the Microscope. And especially Life Magazine's series and book The World We Live In with paintings and open fold-out pages like museum dioramas of ancient to present life, some of which I copied by hand.

(for more see my note "some photo art biography")

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