A colonial herbarium attempts to rewild itself
Rewilding Specimens is a collaboration with An Mertens. A computer program combed the images of the online Herbarium of the Botanical Gardens of Meise gathering then cutting out images of leaves and seeds. More than 9500 of these type specimens were collected during the Belgian colonial period in Congo, Rwanda, Burundi. Only 60 of these type specimens were described by women.
A lot of taxonomists never left their desks, like Emile De Wildeman, who was the director of the Botanical Garden of Meise from 1912 till 1931. Yet he renamed more than 3600 specimens. The third part of the ‘official’ Latin name is the abbreviation of the taxonomist’s name.
Another computer program, using pattern recognition algorithms, animates the virtual spirits of the type specimens who once lived a flourishing life in Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, to leave the herbarium to rename the taxonomists and rewild their portraits.
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