Specimen is a series of photographic and video artworks made with the Australian Institute of Anatomy Collection from the National Museum of Australia. These specimens in jars lack any detailed records of their origin, rendering them eternally dislocated from their own histories, from the timescales and landscapes in which they lived. Instead they sit preserved in toxic formaldehyde.
Many of the specimens represent species heavily impacted by human activity. By projecting photographs of their ghostlike presences back onto the landscape, Specimen invites audiences to consider their relationship with their natural environment and its non-human community.
Animated by place, the final photographs render these specimens both present and absent in a changing environment.
In Australia, these images have been projected back onto the landscape from which they were removed: Dubbo (Artstate 2016), Wagga Wagga (Illuminate 2017), Falls Creek (2017/18), Narrandera (2019), and Sandigo (2020).
In the UK they were projected onto places connected to the colonisation of Australia: London (2017), Portsmouth (2017), and Plymouth (2018).
A gallery-based outcome was presented at PhotoAccess in Canberra in 2020.
Watch the video from PhotoAccess (Video by Sammy Hawker)