Monday, July 08, 2013

More Than Human by Tim Flach

Do not let the image of a panda on the cover of More Than Human by photographer Tim Flach deceive you. More Than Human is not a book of pretty nature pictures. While there is much beauty within the photographs, mostly taken in studios, there is also much to disturb. Flach confronts readers, many of whom may have little face-to-face contact with animals, with the impact their lives have on the mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and insects with which we share the planet. The images may challenge the way we think and feel about animals. Sometimes it is the accompanying text written by Lewis Blackwell that shakes us.

Through large, colorful photographs, Flach shows us many things that we have probably not seen, such as the green fluorescent glow of a rat into which genes from luminescent jellyfish have been introduced. Portraits of chickens genetically modified to have no feathers, bizarrely-groomed show animals, and hybrid animals, such as the liger and the zonkey, show how humans tamper with the animals world. Other photos, including those of millipedes, bats, and spiders, force readers to view what they often avoid.

An effort must be made to read More Than Human. I found that I needed two bookmarks, holding my spots in the main series of photos and in explanatory notes in the back of the volume. I also read at a table, as the book is rather heavy. Still, I enjoyed the viewing and suggest the book to readers who seek works on natural history and wildlife conservation.

Flach, Tim. More Than Human. Abrams, 2012. 312p. ISBN 9781419705526.

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