With the help of a huge swarm of flies, John Knuth transforms decay into creation. Flies have long symbolized death and rot in art as well as popular culture. In medieval times, for example, it was popularly believed flies were born out of carcasses rather than eggs as larvae. Knuth, though, emphasizes the flies productive role in the larger cycle of life and death. He creates his work by first feeding the flies water mixed with sugar and paint. The flies largely digest their food outside of their body, Knuth’s flies doing this directly on the canvas. While digesting, each fly leaves a small mark of pigment, a small piece of the larger record or the swarm. Check out the video to see Knuth’s process and more of his finished paintings.
It’s difficult to tell who is the artist in this work. Hubert Duprat began working with caddisfly larvae in the 1980’s. The caddisfly live in streams and use bits from their natural surroundings to create a casing to live in. Typically this is made up of pebbles, wood, plants, and so on. Duprat moved these caddisfly larvae to a new surrounding and delicately removed their outer shells The caddisfly than used the precious metals and stones of their new home to create strangely glamorous shells. It’s interesting to note the particular materials and patterns the larvae tend toward. The flies’ “creativity” and Duprat’s conspicuously absent hand in work makes it extremely intriguing.
The installations of Peruvian artist Antonio Paucar utilize a rather uncommon material: dead flies. By suspending dead flies from nylon string as well as meticulously placing them on the ground Paucaur painstakingly builds each pieces. The swarm of flies loosely forms the image of a human figure. The hazy form created by the collective flies imply the memory of a person, particularly in relation to the space it inhabitants. Further, the flies seem to suggest the idea of death or decay. The last four photos are taken from a piece installed in Germany’s Sacrow palace, a building dating back to the 17th century. The grounds had been inhabited by Prussian aristocrats, high ranking Nazi officials, as well as communist secret police.