Friday, May 20, 2011

Amy Stein: Not So Domesticated Animals


What happens when humans encounter animals in the wild? Or better yet, what happens when wild animals encounter humans in the city? And do these rare and not-so-rare occurrences hold any lasting value beyond the moment? The answers to these questions might be found in photographer Amy Stein's Domesticated series.


On first glance, these images immediately capture your attention; wild animals in urban settings and humans awkwardly interacting with them make for striking subjects. These creatures seem both out of place in the pictures yet somehow look very familiar and make sense in these urban settings.

On closer inspection, you begin to wonder how these photographs were made. An image of a little girl by a swimming pool from a bear's point of view, or a pair of bobcats relaxing by a residential construction project seems too realistic to be true, ironically.


These are of course reconstructions of actual interactions between people and animals. Ms. Stein based her Domesticated project on written and oral stories of these encounters, and set them in a rural town near a state forest.

The result is a beautiful and surreal look into the strange and strained relationship between humans and wild animals. Many of Ms. Stein's cleverly planned shots show the moment when this relationship is either at its highlight or is put to the test.


Ms. Stein's intent for this series was to show how evolution works even to this day and how both humans and animals are affected by each others actions. Unlike the rate of evolution thousands of years ago, the current tempo of change brought about by urban development and technology means that wild animals have to adapt to newer and stranger settings, which leads to the curious encounters that you see in these images. 

Take away the animals in the pictures, and everything seems to be normal. In this series however, the barriers between the wild and civilization seem to grow vague, as if the animals were meant to be there all along. In this series, it seems like the humans are the ones out of touch with their city dwellings.

 

Although these images have a deeper meaning than what they appear to be, some comparison can be drawn from the previous post on Joel Sartore's Rare project; these encounters between man and beast aren't always beneficial to both parties. In trifling circumstances, they can lead to lighthearted anecdotes as depicted in these pictures.

The graver undertone in these pictures still exists however, and it points to the unbalance between urban development and these creature's natural habitats.


On that last note, one can't help but think that the unbalance between nature and so-called civilization is somewhat paradoxical.  On one hand, these interactions show the negative effect of rapid change, but on the other, these rare encounters with wild animals for some people wouldn't be possible if not for these borderlands between human dwellings and wild habitats.


The whole Domesticated series as well as other projects can be found on Amy Stein's website. She also has a blog which is well worth following.

43 comments:

Jaccstev said...

Great looking photos! That first photo seems like the most horrifying situation.

The Angry Lurker said...

Stunning pictures but the first one is a little creepy and posed?

Flodström said...

Wow, I really like the one with the bobcats. Going to check her website

Pappa Püllï said...

Great blog! Keep the posts coming, i enjoy reading them!

Dejch said...

nice photos, i'd like to have a bear like that at my backyard :)

Ray Rousell said...

Love the first picture, the little girl looks frozen with terror!

Intraman said...

amazing pictures, the ones with the domesticated and wild cat facing each other is great...

Trolske said...

Wow, the picture with the bobcats is so beautiful.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I wish those were real, that first one would be an amazing photo.

Fang said...

Those look oddly interesting.

Shutterbug said...

These shots are cleverly planned! Love it! :)

Banacek said...

Great pictures. I like the last one.

Nutty C said...

I fucking love bears, I want a pet bear.

D4 said...

Beautiful pieces with a nice message. Makes me wish I owned a construction company I could tear down.

The Viking said...

I really like those photographs, but then again I also love animals :)

jamiesaur said...

fascinating photos! wonder how she was able to take them without being attacked lol

Jay Reid said...

Wow! If only.

T. Roger Thomas said...

Bear said the pool was closed and he meant it.

Erika said...

I wish I lived more local to wildlife. Sometimes it sucks to live in more of a city area. =/

Colin Biano said...

Interesting concept

Quetopia said...

Those deer look delicious. I would try to pet those Bob Cats and they would scratch the shit out of me.

Rorschach Redemption said...

The ones with the cubs sitting on the construction material is poignant. And that is not just some random statement, I swear it hit me in my soul somewhere. Forget evolution. DOWN WITH HUMANITY.
Nah.

Major.Mack said...

that first photo is awesome :)

Necroticism said...

Wow!!! tough girl! she's in command :O

Jacob said...

Lovely PIctures, as we have all come to expect from you :)

Moobeat said...

awesome!

duffboi said...

These pictures are really cool, but I think it is also sad that we as civilization are taking up these wild animal's habitats. Makes me think, "can't we all just get along?" Also reminds me of how sad I feel whenever I see a forest or wooded area cut down either for lumber or as an expansion of urban development. I wonder if there will come a time when we will stop expanding and let the rest of nature just be.

Inhia said...

thanks =D these images made me smile this morning

Hipster hater said...

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Broccoli said...

These photos are great! I really enjoyed the ideas of animals and humans coinciding anywhere. It is amazing how nature does that. Fantastic that this small bit of evolution is great, in how everything becomes more comfortable with new things.

Alexandra said...

the last photo is just...just..fantastic!! :-|

HiFi said...

Animals are so cute, but those bobcats would freak me out. They're vicious!

fit4life said...

i love the cats picture, but the bear one was just funny

Rob said...

Sometimes I think wild animals are simply trying to figure out what happened to humans. They think "oh those guys, they used to be cool. I don't even know what happened man."

In my mind apparently animals sound like Cheech and Chong.

Admin said...

Wow, really good post. Ridiculous.

Generally Disgruntled said...

I think that somewhere I have a picture of a raccoon coming out of a sewer in my town...

Speedy Ed said...

wpw that girl is close to that bear :P

Leo Stahl said...

They are really some amazing photo's. I seem to find that your blog always has the most inspiring ones too.

jblogger45 said...

awesome pics!

G said...

wow I love the bear pic

Malkavian said...

Great pictures, that coyote in the parking lot is great, the best one is the first one without a doubt Pedobear on the prowl

Necroticism said...

Moore!

MRanthrope said...

I had to stop and double take at the bear/little girl one. These may be recreation, but still awesome visuals.

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