By looking closely at living birds in the field through the materiality of colour film and studio props, The Nature of Imitation explores the connection between seeing, knowing, and wanting. In detailed, hyper-real photographs that recall the decorative drawings of natural history, the work evokes the delicate experience of holding a bird against traditions of landscape representation in religious iconography, Renaissance frescoes and tapestries, and Moderni st painting and sculpture. Through collaborations with scientists, ecologists, and naturalists on the Massachusetts coast, at universities and research centers across the Northeast of the United States and in Costa Rica, Yola Monakhov Stockton gained access to wild birds captured for banding before their release, and those captive in labs. Alongside photographs taken in orchards, gardens, and on wooded paths, the work cultivates a vocabulary of techniques that attend to the process of making, such as light leaks on film, objects acting as masks inside the camera, or evidence of equipment, paper backdrops, and cutout shapes. The field becomes an improvised studio, a living picture plane. The series revisits positivist modes of photographic representation against a contemporary and personal awareness of the fragility of place.