Photography and Text by Joy Bao, Copyright 2020
the natural home or environment of an animal, plant, or other organism.
informal: a person’s usual or preferred surroundings.
The dictionary told me these are the definitions of “habitat.”
I found the word surprisingly fitting for the photo shoot, as the location itself is never quite the habitat for anybody. The room is located in my friend’s home, who also modeled for the project. It is not her or the other girl’s habitat, because it is the “animal room;” however, this room is also not a habitat for an animal, as it is man-made and not “natural,” and the shorthair cat is a type of domestic animal.
What we express emotionally, most of the time, largely depends on the environment around us. With a seemingly natural yet slightly off daily-life setting, I hope to achieve a gradation not only of human emotions, but also artificiality in terms of the project itself. Having the two models making relatively obvious and dramatic facial expressions while standing beside a cat tree that is clearly not designed for human use, the upper part of the photos shows the self-awareness of a deliberate art project. But as if the true loving and caring nature inside the model have precipitated, the bottom half shows the model looking at the cat, and the whole setting becomes more “habitat-like” as it cannot be more suitable for the emotion and atmosphere. While the cat tree is the main prop in this project, I still wanted to emphasize the homely and domestic setting by using only natural light coming from the windows. Through a series of contrast and paradoxical settings, I hope to draw attention to our emotional state with material surroundings, and, ultimately, the question of where exactly can be our habitat?
About The Author: Joy Bao is a senior enrolled at Bryn Mawr College. Class of 2020