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A flamingo and a pelican get lost in the jungle, or cranes explore new terrain. While it sounds like the beginning of a fairy-tale, it actually describes photographs so extraordinary, we have to ask ourselves: “Is this real?” New York photographer Pat Swain is a pioneer in digital art. She has developed her very own form of artistic expression.
Her curiously unique body of work lifts these creatures out of their natural habitats and places them in captivating environments – places where they ordinarily do not exist. These graceful birds take on sculptural dimensions, blending into the diverse flora perfectly on an aesthetic level. The spectacular contrast of colors is central to the power of the images, while the texture of the feathers echoes that of the vegetation.
But how do these birds end up in new territories? Places in which they have never existed? Here, the representational character of photography is challenged on a second level. Not only does Swain create the environments, the birds themselves are digitally transplanted; after photographing zoo animals, she composites them into these magnificent landscapes, where such birds would never have been found. Exploring the relationship between existence and environment, she draws our attention to the conservation of biodiversity and natural habitats.