In 1936, an American ornithologist named James Bond published the definitive taxonomy Birds of the West Indies. Ian Fleming, an active bird-watcher living in Jamaica, appropriated the name for his novel s lead character. He found it flat and colourless, a fitting choice for a character intended to be anonymous. . . a blunt instrument in the hands of the government. In Field Guide to Birds of the West Indies, Taryn Simon (*1975) casts herself as James Bond (1900 1989) the ornithologist, and identifies, photographs, and classifies all the birds that appear within the twenty-four films of the James Bond franchise. The appearance of many of the birds was unplanned and virtually undetected, operating as background noise for whatever set they happened to fly into. Simon s ornithological discoveries occupy a liminal space confined within the fiction of the James Bond universe and yet wholly separate from it. This taxonomy of 331 birds is a precise consideration of a new nature found in an alternate reality.
Everyone who knows Bond knows Ian Fleming is the British former naval intelligence officer who wrote the 14 novels that gave rise to the roguish spy. But Fleming had another passion: birds. He so loved them that he named his dashing protagonist after American ornithologist James Bond. As Bond the spy grew in stature, Bond the ornithologist faded from view. This dynamic fascinates photographer Taryn Simon. Her series Birds of the West Indies (which shares its name with an ornithology book written by the real Bond and beloved by Fleming) sits within that surreal space. It combines Bond the agent with Bond the ornithologist, examining both men through the creatures and objects that enchanted them--or, as Simon cheekily puts it, their mutual 'love of birds.'--Laura Mallonee "Wired "