fauna / flora

archival project, 1996-present

netherlands, philippines, australia, aotearoa

table of content

i. summary

ii. background

iii. context

iv. method

vi. archive

*optimized for desktop and laptop screens* 

i. summary

 

Titled Fauna / Flora, this archival project contains a collection of objects from 1996 to present. The material is gathered from locations in the Netherlands, Philippines, Australia and Aotearoa.

The project challenges the role of science in the classification of flora and fauna, favouring what are considered credible epistemologies. Ultimately, my interest lies in examining entrenched colonial systems.

Through digital rendering, a series of 3 dimensional models represent a select number of physical objects from the archive; skeletons, butterflies, insects, stones, snakeskin etc. This process explores 3D modelling as an archival practice and as a means to facilitate research.

ii. background

This archive goes back to 1996, the year  I started collecting objects found during walks with my mother and brother in the forests of the Netherlands. We used to go out early at dawn and look for trails of deer, their footsteps and the pastures where they may have grazed prior to our arrival. During these walks, we would find fresh prints of hoves in the sand, moss growing on branches and stone, and skeletal remains of animals. Since then, I have continued the practice of collecting skeletal remains, fossils, insects and so forth. 

 

Processing these objects in the form of an online archive, based on 3D models, has lead to an exploration of the role of science in epistemologies  the credibility of knowledge and consequently the classification of places and the status of it's residences. This approach is the result of travelling and living in different places, from the Netherlands, to the Philippines, Australia and the Kingdom of Tonga. 

 

Though this archival has its roots in childhood past times, archiving has become part of my practice. This specific archive has slowly turned into a project challenging science not only as a means to an end, or a tool with an outcome and a method of problem solving, but as a value systems reflecting complex relationships between science and non-scientific systems of knowledge.

The totality of the individual objects in the archive, hopefully can provide as material to talk about bigger concepts beyond the object itself. There’s nothing particular about the objects but presented in an archive form and abstracted they appear as relics giving them attention otherwise not granted. They are, in actuality, the remains of quite familiar fauna and flora. 

 

While digitizing the objects, I began to have conversations about my role as a non-scientist in what may be considered taxonomy, archeology and anthropology. All fields of research in the academic world. This included conversations about how the classification of places, fauna, flora and people may be linked to colonialism starting in 16th century European exploration. At present, we see this impact on the paradoxical preservation of some areas and the systemic destruction of others.

 

This archive is also an exploration of the communicative potential of the internet. It looks at bridging the gap between data available offline and online. During this process, the archive is also an attempt to reach out to researchers, academics to interact through a common purpose to problem-solve. 

 

iii. context 

Three dimensional modelling as included in this project has the potential to study specimen and further the potential of visualising research. It is worth exploring the potential and place digital modelling has in academia, for both researchers, teachers and students.

The images included in this archive are taken from various specimens collected in different areas of the world (where the author has lived for some years). While some of the specimen's identity are not yet verified, to the best of our knowledge, they are close representatives of a genus indicated in the labels. Each 3D image is a composite of more than 150-200 photos rendered carefully so that each facet possible yields the most realistic semblance of a biological wealth. One example you will find in this archive is an image of an eight-legged crawler known as a Tarantula. As you navigate through the insect's image you will find that at the insect's abdominal region there are prominent hair projections called urticating bristles that if you zoom in further the hair appears stiffer than steel, a tool that tarantula uses as defense.  

 

Access to such 3D models as included in this archive, teachers, students, and plant-animal enthusiasts alike will have a good estimate not only of the specimen's size but of the structural size as well.*

*Words by Richie Eve G. Ragas

MS Hort & Agronomy major Plant Breeding Genetics

Department of Biology and Environmental Science, College of Science

University of the Philippines Cebu

 

iii. method

The archive contains 3D models representing a selection of objects collected since 1996. Objects are found and stored non-discriminately, but generally archived based on these three variables; (1) quality of object, (2) interest in object relating to place and (3) capacity to carry the object at the time and place where it is found. 

Since it's conception, this archive has not applied a specific methodology in the preservation, storage or description of its objects. Therefore, the archive does not contain any written data referring to specific geo-tagged locations, dates, species or conditions in which it was found. Likewise, due to storage in mostly ordinary plastic bags,, jars, and plastic containers (non of which are water/air/dust-proof), the quality or state of the object has likely and visibly deteriorated in the past two decades. 

The archive (partially and in its totality) has been moved from and between continents, countries and cities. During this period, the objects weathered different seasons, temperatures and accompanied weather conditions from freezing cold to high levels of humidities and specific environmental changes such as typhoons.

The 3D models therefore serve as a form of preservation but also as a form of online data collection and dissemination. The 3D models have been created manually, using a technique wherein, essentially, photographs of each individual object are converted into three dimensional representations. 

iv. archive

The images below contain various forms or modes of visually representing the final 3D model. Each variation, presents a specific texture, hue or color based on the selected surface, depth to surface representation and shadow to light ratio. The final 3D model, depicts or represents the actual object as best as technically possible. The variations of the model as per below, may be considered as visual studies of the object, highlighting, distorting and exaggerating specific aspects of the object. 

STONE---GIF.gif
STONE_paint mask_top side.png
STONE_normals_top angle.png
STONE_sketch_top.png

object: stone, possibly sandstone 

110mm  x 85mm x 35mm

colors: brown, shade of red/maroon, yellow, white, grey

found location: Tasmania, Australia

year: 2015

visual study #01: paint mask, red-white hue, light to shadow representation

visual study #02: normals, various colours, regional variations

visual study #03: sketch, grey scale, textural variation

object: bone, unknown

90mm x 35mm x 20mm

colors: brown, shade of red/maroon, yellow, white, grey

found location: Turakirae Head Scientific Reserve, Aotearoa

year: 2017

object: ants nest

190mm x 150mm x 400mm

colors; brown, white, grey, beige, yellow

found location: Bantayan Island,, Philippines

year: 2004