That oft repeated phrase, "man's conquest of nature," has been sounding a tad ironic of late. Science and technology are just as amazing as ever, but Ma Nature has been pushing back, serving up a bumper crop of wind, water and wildfire disasters over the last few years. The old renaissance ideal of turning the natural world into art at least maintained a sense of balance--the still life (aka "nature morte" or "dead nature") paintings of the period often had a leering human skull placed among the fruit and flowers to remind us that mortality always had the last laugh. But old time natural history museums of the past often seemed sort of dead to start with. Sarah Cusimano Miles' Solomon's House photo series deploys vintage objects from the Anniston Museum of Natural History in Alabama, and subjects them to her camera's penetrating, ultra-high resolution gaze. Inspired by Francis Bacon's proposed utopian 17th century natural sciences academy of the same name, Solomon's House is an oddly psychological, sometimes disturbing, series that reveals as much about human attitudes as it does about its animal subjects themselves, taking us on a journey where vintage science itself is put under a microscope.
Solomon's House: Photographs by Sarah Cusimano Miles, Through January 26, Martine Chaisson Gallery, 727 Camp St., 302-7942