A new photo series titled “A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World” documents the ways humans are changing the natural world. Shot and edited by Robert Zhao Renhui, whose work explores the ethics and morality of man’s relationship to nature, the images catalogue how animals and organisms evolve in response to the modern world.
On view at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne, Australia, the series features both human-engineered changes–like fake meat–and some mutations that have occurred in the wild as the result of human activity–like a beetle with three eyes. Largely, the changes are the result of human intervention, though. There are cube-shaped apples (bred to be easier to store on grocery shelves) and rhinos whose horns have been removed by wildlife conservationists to deter poachers; and a wild tiger who’s been fitted with a kill switch around its neck to be activated if it shows too much interest in getting near humans.
In one specific image, a polar bear–the poster child of the environmental impacts of climate change–swims through Canada’s Hudson Bay, where the bear population is at risk of collapsing because of ice retreat. Melting ice means polar bears have to spend more time swimming to get between pieces of ice where they hunt for food.
Renhui works with the Institute of Critical Zoologists, an organization that brings together artists and scientists to research the relationship between humans and animals. “A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World” is a poignant reminder of the complex ways humanity controls nature; both directly and indirectly; both helping it and hurting it. The series is also available in book form here.