Animal Studies

Elliot Ross & Alexander MacLeod

What exactly are we looking at?

The title of this series of photographs is Animal Studies, but I am not sure about that second word. A noun or a verb? A thing or an action? Are these studies of animals or are these animals studying?

My wife likes the squirrel the best. ‘He’s coming right at you,’ she says. ‘That is full-frontal squirrel and he is not backing down.’ My kids, maybe inspired by the game, think that all the birds really are angry, and, to me, it seems the orangutan is weary and he has seen this all before.

When I look at these images now, for maybe the thirtieth time, I barely see the animals any more. All of their amazing bodies are still there, of course, and it should not be possible to ignore this kind of variety – the astounding shapes that life can take – but I have to admit, after my first and second journeys through this pile, it wasn’t the feathers or the fur that brought me back to the beginning again and held me here for so long.