#marbling pondskaters/insect books

marbling_pondskatersWhere can I find pond skaters? Is it too late in the year? Contact Megan at the National Trust. Look out for ponds around town. Could initially be done on a small scale for x amount of time; either record time carefully or I take the role of editor/facilitator and make the aesthetic decision when to stop. Will daylight/temperature etc affect the pond skaters movements? Can these factors be manipulated? Could the time period be 24 hours…the resulting patterns chronicling a day in the life of a pond skater? The narrative borne out of this fact?

Initial Plan:

pond skaters getting stuck into a dead honey bee

Go pond dipping…maybe Swanpool? Reservoirs near Penryn? Garden centres? Maybe other creatures would also work (water boatmen, general wiggly things)?

COULD LEAD TO OTHER COLLABORATIONS WITH INSECTS? Like this idea of collaboration with other species of plants and animals…links in with many of the projects I am pondering? Whole books created by insects? Different species creating different parts of the book…leaf cutter ants, silk worms etc?

Found an artist in the USA called Steven Kutcher who uses insects to create paintings by basically painting their feet. Erm, some of the images are pretty interesting but seems a bit contrived? Maybe the marbling idea is also a bit too contrived? Maybe not…it’s about the movements of the pond skater on the surface, painting the legs of insects must affect their movement etc?

 I have also been looking into the work of Hubert Duprat, (example and thoughts below). He says the idea was partly borne out the work done in the nineteenth century by François-Jules Pictet and Jean Henri Fabre who experimented with structure building insects by giving them non-indigenous materials to work with. (You think you’ve come up with an original idea and then find out someone had already done something similar and they in turn were influenced by someone else…kind of makes me feel better!!). While reading about Fabre I came across another of his experiments that involved Pine Processionary caterpillars; they are pretty gnarly itchy little buggers and form long trails through their native pine forests following each others silk trails. Fabre set them up on a plant pot and they followed each other continuously and in circles for seven days without stopping!! That’s pretty mental…pretty strong metaphors could be construed from that, the blind leading the blind/rat race/existing and not living? Could well be worth further investigating…maybe they could be set up to go continually around the circle line on a tube map or the M25 on an atlas?

These artefacts, or in my opinion, sculptures have been created by an Osmia avosetta, a solitary mason bee from the middle east. They build these nests over two days to provide a cocoon for their larvae. This behaviour was only first observed in 2009 in Turkey and Iran. Returning to the idea of my role being the facilitator it’d be really interesting to manipulate these sculptures by setting up a tank/enclosure with flowers and the bee; my choice of flowers/colours would affect the outcome…A COLLABORATION WITH A BEE!? http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100504124736.htm Also refer to Caddis Fly project in the post modern animal (scan in and find reference)

Catrin Morgan recently told me about Hubert Duprat’s Caddis Fly Larvae with Cases (1980-99)…a brilliant example of what I want to call cross-species collaboration. The Mason bee idea wasn’t borne out of this one but they are very similar. Here’s a link to the caddis fly larvae in action: http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/25/assets/movies/duprat.mov and a link to the whole article: http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/25/duprat.php The quote below is from a conversation between Duprat and Christian Besson from “The Wonderful Caddis Worm: Sculptural Work in Collaboration with Trichoptera,”. I think it raises some really interesting questions/points about collaboration between species, something that this project is becoming increasingly concerned with… “Kant’s distinction between works of art and those of nature leaves us in a quandary. The production of the artifact within nature herself poses a problem—even more so when an aesthetic aspect is involved. Whether the insect is a craftsperson or whether, more generally, nature is a creator of forms, the consideration, within nature, of an aesthetic dimension is the stumbling block of science. … Your activity as an artist, upsetting the ordinary ethology of the insect, seems to me to be the same thing as introducing a noise, complicating its umwelt and producing a response. In your diversion of the caddis worm’s behavior, in your artistic manipulation, the effect is twofold. From a biological viewpoint, a random event triggers self-organization. From a human viewpoint, the experimenter’s intent produces this effect. … Is the caddis worm’s precious case the work of the insect or the work of the artist? This is not the right question. The contradiction can be resolved by the differing viewpoints. According to the first view, the caddis worm owed nothing to the artist (who is simply the author of one noise among the thousands of other noises in its environment). According to the second view, the caddis worm is merely the executor of the artist’s project. The artistic statement plays on the confusion of the two levels by overlaying the two perspectives. The aesthetic result (at once natural and artistic) turns the caddis worm’s case—which is more than an assisted ready-made or a diversion—into a doubly exposed object…1 —Jeffrey Kastner”

>>>film documentation idea of the initial tests

After speaking to experts I’m unlikely to be able to find any pond skaters until spring, I have been over thirty 7 spot ladybirds though so having a think