Can we know insects through electronic and artistic interfaces? Do they know us? Can they experience art? Can we develop new relationships with them?
I built a miniature museum space and used telepresent technologies to re-scale the situation and to provide methods for interaction that do not harm the crickets. Technological interfaces were integrated as organs of a system that attempted to change human viewpoints, disrupt a sense of self-certainty and approach a sense of empathy. An interactive webcam installed in the miniature museum offered remote viewers an intimate way to get to know the crickets. Humans entered the space only through internet-enabled devices that activated lights, a cricket puppet, and chirping sounds. After I built it, I took on the role of museum director and invited three separate exhibitions: 1) Trans-Species, by artist, Ken Rinaldo, 2) The Telepresent Animal Hall of Fame, curated by Doo-Sung Yoo, and 3) Interspecies Housing, a landscape architecture student competition. Each exhibition taught us about the preferences and habits of House Crickets; for example, the Cricket Cloud piece created by the architecture students showed us the ways that crickets experience space through touch.
Visitors to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, were able to see the physical Museum for Insects on display, but they could not control the functions available to the remote viewers. The altering of roles – human, insect, viewers, producers, curators, students – within the space of a miniature museum, was a way to explore value, empathy, power and aesthetics.Screen capture example of webcam view for remote visitors
Curated by Janey Winchell, this exhibition features many artists who have been leaders in artmaking that rethinks ways humans interact with animals. Exhibiting artists: Julie Andreyev, Hilary Berseth, Catherine Chalmers, Emil Fiore, Mark Fischer, Ryan Hackett, Komar and Melamid, Steven Kutcher, Mary Jo McConnell, Jim Nollman, Julia Oldham, Christine Peter, Daniel Ranalli, Corinna Schnitt, William Wegman, Yukinori Yanagi and Amy Youngs.
Special thanks to The Ohio State University College of Arts and Sciences, to Janey Winchell, and to the tech team at the Peabody Essex Museum for supporting this project.