In the past years, bee populations have been devastated by something scientists are calling Colony Collapse Disorder, causing a global crisis for humans and other animals. Sam Dreoge, a biologist at U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, catalogs hundreds of bee species in his lab. As the head of the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab, Dreoge produces stunning high-resolution images that capture the diversity and spellbinding beauty the fascinating and helpful little creatures.
Dreoge’s photographs, which are used to identify and track bee populations, are often magnified up to five times the actual size of the insect. Focusing on minuscule details normally only visible under a microscope, most of the pieces are composites of numerous images, shot at multiple ranges with a 60 millimeter macro lens. Each image is also carefully edited, scrubbed of specks of dust. In preparation for the photo shoots, each bee specimen undergoes a bath in warm water and dish soap, after which they are carefully blow-dried to showcase their astoundingly beautiful, vibrant hair.
Dreoge’s images of bees read like the technological age’s answer to Leonardo da Vinci, who studied and sometimes killed insect specimens for the dual purpose of art and science. Research like this always raises ethical flags, but that moral question becomes more complicated when we are confronted with environmental crises like CCD. Bee populations are effected by parasites as well as problems caused by humans, like pesticides and climate change; it’s imperative that we find a way to save these miraculous animals, and Dreoge’s work could go a long way. What do you think? (via Smithsonian and Colossal)
The lens of the Indonesian photographer Donald Jusa has miraculously allowed us to see into the eyes of tiny, wholly bizarre creatures; with his macro camera, the artist is able to capture the most minute details of the insect body. At times, the faces of these beings seem entirely foreign; as viewers, we search for marks of human feeling and features, but the multiple eyes and strange limbs transfix and confound our perceptive powers.
Unlike some macro photography cataloging the lives of insects, Jusa does not capture the surrounding environment or even the entire body. Instead, his photographs read like strange portraits; against a colored backdrop, the miniature creatures seem absurdly to sit for the artist, proudly displaying their features. Fixed perfectly within the boundaries of the frame, Jusa’s non-human subjects are magically motionless, as if frozen between periods of buzzing and flight. At such close range, the viewer experiences the texture of insect flesh and bone; our eyes scan coarse, moistened hairs.
Jusa’s insects, magnified many times over and seen in such fine detail, tone, and resolution, resemble strange beasts, unrecognizable as the tiny creatures that they most certainly are. As we peer at them and their multiple eyes stare back, we might feel affrighted or startled by their clarity, the very fact of their largeness. It is unnerving to imagine our own faces reflected a thousand times over in these complex, repeating ocular lenses, and yet magically, we can interpret the tiniest hint of recognition within the insect eyes. Take a look. (via Demilked)
The artist Jess Riva Cooper’s Viral Series imagines the human body overtaken by malevolent plant life; like the bodies of the dead, her ceramic women busts are infected with ivy, flowers, and insects. Inspired by the Hebrew figures of the golem and the dybbuk, the viral females occupy a space between life and death; like golem, they are anthropomorphic beings brought to life by human (as opposed to divine) hands, but they are also seemingly suffocated by roots that harken back to the cleavage of the ominous dybbuk, a departed soul that fixes itself to the body of a living person. The word “dybbuk,” in fact, arrises from the Hebrew verb for “sticking from the root.”
Unlike the figures of Yiddish folklore, Cooper’s busts are female, modeled after the seductive sculpted faces of Classical Greece. Closing resembling the great alluring forms like Praxiteles’ Aphrodite of Cnidus, these figures abandon the feminine piety in favor of an ecstatic sexuality; serpentine vines crawl across their tender cheeks, and their mouths open wide to give birth to lush roses or to allow passage to fertile swarms of scarab beetles. Their eyes appear to roll back in sensual pleasure; their teeth gnaw on thick roots.
Cooper’s series seems to draw on ancient and Judeo-Christian mythology to construct a cohesive and elaborate narrative of female creative power; these women represent death and birth in equal measure. As the bodies of the dead are consumed by insects, they ultimately give rise to blossoming flora. This strange and natural cycle of rebirth serves as a metaphor for the artist’s beloved Detroit, where buildings and homes succumb to financial ruin and are eventually overgrown with feral plant life. Take a look. (via Colossal and HiFructose)
Last week, we featured remarkable photographs of snails by Vyacheslav Mischenko; the Indonesian-based photographer Nordin Seruyan takes similar yet wonderfully unique shots of the astonishing insect life flourishing in Southeast Asia. The magical images feature absurd little creatures that seem to spring from a budding daydream, and amongst brilliant pinks and purples, their spidery eyes and buoyant, spindly legs take center stage.
In their unknowingness, the beautiful creatures are movingly personified; Seruyan often positions his subjects slightly off of center, as if to amusingly suggest that they are simply dropping in for a portrait session. Beady eyes gape open expressively; antennae twitch thoughtfully, and wings brush against one another. Arachnids, normally pictured as frightful, carnivorous creatures, appear quaint (twee, even!) amidst soft, inviting petals that seem to blush bashfully with color.
The high resolution and vivid saturation of Seruyan’s photographs document even the smallest detail of the insect body: the space between a doubled set of wings, the articulation of twiggy limps, the coarsest fuzz that envelops the body. Within this magical miniature world, viewers are invited to imagine narratives for the creatures. Small as the smallest water droplet, a beetle bows his tiny head for a drink, balancing himself atop a weighted blade of grass. Moths mate amongst flower petals fit for the finest honeymoon bedchamber.
These tiny beings and their delightful goings-on serve to remind us of the wonderfully diverse, colorful, and textured planet we inhabit, and the artist entreats us that we might “discover the beauty of the little world.” Take a look. (via Design Taxi)
Artist Alan Bur Johnson natural motifs often. However, this may be his work at its most creepy. Johnson’s Progeny series begins with photographs of winged insects. The photographs are transferred to transparencies and affixed to the wall using insect pins. Progeny allows viewers to inspect the insects up close, afford creatures we’d otherwise dispose of more time, and give some thought to taxonomy, the exercise of classification. Interestingly his statement says in part:
“Whether an image, memory or specimen, each is meticulously dissected, altered and restructured. Referencing physical structures and the pulse of living cycles, his work documents fleeting occurrences, which typically transpire unnoticed.”
Robert Connett‘s stab at humanity through sea creature and insect inspiration makes for one confusing trip. Meshed with outlandish psychedelic flair the creatures of each painting truly come alive and scenes of money missiles and nuclear waste bring clarity to the confusion.