“Human:Nature” by Kevin Lanthier: Wildlife breaking into the City

In his series “Human:Nature”, Vancouver-based photographer Kevin Lanthier presents his city’s many non-human residents. As human activity alters and controls more of the earth’s surface, wildlife are forced to adapt. Some species are displaced from these areas, some live at the fringe, and others become full-time residents of what we tend to think of as “our” spaces. As their behaviour adjusts, it can seem as though these non-human neighbours of ours take on some of our own patterns and characteristics, reflecting our own nature back to us. We’re also forced to re-examine what “natural habitat” now even means for many of them. As such, these images present moments of day-to-day life for several commonly found species, as seen in tableau, not unlike the dioramas in natural history museums, but updated for the reality of their new habitats.

In the images, Lanthier chronicles local Vancouver wildlife stories, including the Chinatown Otter, a river otter that “broke into” Sun Yat-Sen Park and ate several of the prized koi fish, prompting rival social media fans using the hashtags #teamotter and #teamkoi. The Olympic Village Beaver is depicted, drawing parallels to Vancouver’s always-challenging housing situation. And there’s The Crow Commute, a daily happenstance in which thousands of crows fly just before dusk to the Still Creek area of Burnaby, echoing the evening rush hour. Vancouver’s “unofficial ambassador” Canuck the Crow is featured in this image as well.

Caribou Migrants. Archival pigment print backmounted to aluminum. © Kevin Lanthier.

Other works in the series explore the wider relationship of certain species to humans, including coyotes, and how they have adapted by turning nocturnal when in urban spaces, Canada geese, and how they’ve transitioned to residing permanently in urban parks rather than migrating, and raccoons, who perhaps more so than any other species have absolutely thrived in cities, the only drawback being that they’ve developed typically human problems like obesity and heart disease for all their success.

At first, these new habitats look rude and unaccommodating—with hard, sharp edges and unsightly, grey concrete—towards their new residents. But the viewer can also find an unmistakable “cuteness” in these situations, and may feel curiosity about what comes next. One is prompted to imagine that perhaps the human inhabitants of these spaces will now be compelled to make special room for their new neighbours, adopting a new manner of living. If human activity can encroach upon nature and change its ways, there’s no reason as to why nature may not strike back and modify human attitudes.

Kevin Lanthier was educated at Langara College and Centre for Digital Imaging and Sound, both in Vancouver. His company, Cake Imagery, provides commercial photography and creative digital retouching to advertising agencies around the world. Kevin also teaches Adobe Photoshop at Langara College and the Vancouver Institute of Media Arts. He is represented by Ian Tan Gallery in Vancouver.

Links: Website (kevinlanthier.com) | Instagram (www.instagram.com/kevinlanthier)

Bears in our Backyard. Archival pigment print backmounted to aluminum. © Kevin Lanthier.
Chinatown Otter. Archival pigment print backmounted to aluminum. © Kevin Lanthier.
Crow Commute. Archival pigment print backmounted to aluminum. © Kevin Lanthier.
Lone Coyotes. Archival pigment print backmounted to aluminum. © Kevin Lanthier.
Olympic Village Beavers. Archival pigment print backmounted to aluminum. © Kevin Lanthier.
Permanent Resident Canada Geese. Archival pigment print backmounted to aluminum. © Kevin Lanthier.
Rabbit Co-op. Archival pigment print backmounted to aluminum. © Kevin Lanthier.
Trash Pandas. Archival pigment print backmounted to aluminum. © Kevin Lanthier.