I explore how a historic image archive can be re-worked through collaborative artistic-scientific practice, and how photography can be ‘re-performed’ as a strategy to observe an environmental change. The focus is on a project by the photographer Chrystel Lebas, who between 2011 and 2017 worked in collaboration with botanists from the Natural History Museum, London. The collaborators used historic and contemporary photographs for seasonal observations in the field. Their specific interest was in the potential for using historic visual ecological records to investigate environmental change as observed now. The paper explores the hybridization of technical, aesthetic and embodied knowledge, the application of montage and the tacit creation of a visual framework for observation. It draws attention to the potential inflexibility in interpretation inherent in the accepted systematic practice of placing ecological records within a herbarium in a natural history collection. Secondly, it illustrates the neglected potential of photographic collections within scientific research.
- seeing as