Home > Insecta > From the Insect Lab

From the Insect Lab

December 20, 2007

Morphidae: Morpho Anaxibia
Butterfly & steel parts and spring and circuit board part. (Link.)

Dynastidae: Eupatorus Gracilicornis
Rhino Beetle with brass gears & parts. (Link.)

Buprestidae: Euchroma Gigantea
Jewel Beetle & brass gears and parts. (Link.)

Orthoptera: Tropidacris Dux
Grasshopper & steel, copper, brass gears, parts and springs. (Link.)

by Mike Libby

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

Categories: Insecta Tags:
  1. vicki
    December 20, 2007 at 9:10 am

    I am assuming that you (the publishers of Qarrtsiluni) invite all comments, criticism as well as praise…if not, I trust you will block or delete this comment:

    I find these contructions fascinating. And the incredible precision required and executed by the artist is fantastic…I admire the artist’s skill…..but this body of work troubles me…I recoil from it. I find myself asking: does the insertion of mechanical, man made objects into remarkable natural figures somehow add to our understanding, appreciation or experiencing of either creation? For me the answer is no…it even suggests, to me, a display of human arrogance that I find troubling.

  2. December 20, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Vicki, of course we invite all responses, and thank you for your honest opinion expressed here. We hope the artist will respond to the subject you’ve brought up, and that other viewers may offer their own perspective on the combination of natural and mechanical presented in these works.

  3. December 20, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    I have to agree with Vicki. I find these images disturbing on several levels. Aesthetically, in my opinion they belong to the world of commercial advertising : they could be ads for expensive watches or cars or some other luxury product, the message implying a connection between the ‘organic’ and the industrial. Technically they are clever but look as if they could have been put together in Photoshop (I thought they were, until I read the captions). My gut reaction is the same one I have in front of those plastified anatomical ‘creations’ by Gunter Von-something: a kind of desecration. Sorry to be so blunt, Mike Libby, but how else does one express one’s honest opinion if not bluntly? Maybe you could explain what your aim is in making these objects?

  4. December 20, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    Fascinating reactions. Personally, I didn’t see a desecration at all, but something analogous to an embalming. The ancient Egyptians used to replace human hearts with scarabs carved in greenstone, and I think something similar is happening here: a tender afterlife preparation for creatures whom most moderns assume to be mere automatons.

  5. December 20, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    As a visual artist myself, I view artworks in three ways. One in terms of craftmanship – yes, it’s marvellous! Secondly, what is the artist trying to say, in this case by combining natural forms with mechanical? Thirdly, what is the feeling it arouses in me, if any?

    The work does provoke thoughts, questions and feelings, even some unpleasant ones. Is it about man versus nature and environment? The fact that real insects were used is what perhaps makes these a bit disturbing for some. What if the ‘real’ animal parts were not real – what would be the reaction then, I wonder?

    The perfection of these pieces attracts me to them, though I think at first maybe they are too perfect and slick. Then there’s a bit of shock as I begin to think about how I and we look at nature, and how the earth, flora and fauna have been damaged by humans, and how that makes me feel. That’s more meaningful to me than just a pretty picture.

    I like and agree with Dave’s comment!

  6. December 20, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    How provocative these tiny sculptures are! What I see is a relationship between natural and manmade technology, questions about the use of the dead body and the use of objects no longer usable as they were intended. Recycling both the tiny body and the tiny mechanical objects into art seems a worthwhile purpose to me. Perhaps, too, there’s something about the afterlife of tiny creatures and manmade things. I’m reminded of one of our musician friends, the late Mambo Johnny Traynor, who crafted hats out of roadkill, particularly cats. It was a way of honoring the animal, who had lost its life to humans, in an artistic project that was both social critique and recycling. The first time I met Mambo, I was horrified at the black cat curled on his head. The response, too, was worth exploring.

  7. Mike Libby
    December 20, 2007 at 8:47 pm

    I appreciate all your well-articulated statements, perceptions and feelings about the work. Thanks for sharing.

  8. December 20, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    I was at first astounded to realize the insects were real – I thought the whole construction was somehow manmade, jeweled or enameled like a Fabergé egg. These works insist that I consider the fragility of the natural body, especially something like a butterfly or the tiny legs of a beetle, paired with the “timeless” working of the brass gears of a watch – certainly the use of a timepiece isn’t accidental here, and neither is the precision of the construction, though some seem to see it as commercial. I don’t agree – I feel the precision is necessary; the artist may be asking us to consider (as Dave implied) what we think about the body after death; time and timelessness; and the perfection of “creation” vs. the perfection of the tiny things humans make, of which tiny precise timepieces are certainly a good example.

  9. December 21, 2007 at 1:40 am

    I find them beautiful and creepy – the intricacy of the work is astounding and lovely, the creepiness inspired for me in instant association with animals implanted with spying, guidance/tracking & bomb apparatus, etc.. Also thought pretty instantly of scarab beetles though (same page as Dave), the Blue Morpho as visual metaphor for the internet, and any number of scifi stories, or course. Many other quick & strong responses to the images – it’s engaging, unsettling work. They are unusually un-torn, whole insects, too, which you don’t see much in the natural world, lending another level of unreality/reality questioning. Dislike the idea of raising & suffocating them for the art or whatever, but if found & used post-mortem, don’t see an ethical question.

  10. December 21, 2007 at 9:54 am

    As an entomologist, these make total sense to me. The most common comment I hear when I show kids (and adults) some of our bigger, showier specimens is “are they real?”

    There is such disbelief that something so beautiful could be natural.
    The colors can’t be that bright! Nature can’t be that interesting!

    To me, these are a metaphor for our constructed environment and our disconnection from nature. But that’s just me projecting :)

  11. Marc
    December 21, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    Interesting. I also thought that these were some sort of graphical amalgamation. I was reminded at once of a conversation I had with someone while observing a hummingbird at a feeder. He likened the refinement of the bird to a Patek Philippe wristwatch. Not a religious man, he nonetheless suggested that the exquisite design of the hummingbird had to make one at least consider the possibility of some grand designer. To me these represented something of a metaphor for that very idea. Peer beneath the exoskeletons of and behold the delicate genius of their invention.

  12. December 21, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    Although the timepiece cogs and springs are rather delicate and precise, they are nothing like as delicate and precise as the insect itself. They can therefore only represent an approach, a crude homage, to the delicate mechanism of the thing itself on behalf of the artist.

  13. November 22, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    Maybe the magic and intricacy of something as banal as God-made bug guts is lost on most of us and can’t begin to be appreciated until dumbed down to clumsy pieces of manmade clockwork.
    That said, I think these are incredibly beautiful and a little bit sad.

  1. No trackbacks yet.
Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: