Cross-species Collaboration

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A basic caddisfly cocoon Credit: Ashley Pond V /Wikipedia

A basic caddisfly cocoon
Credit: Ashley Pond V /Wikipedia

Over the past year, I’ve highlighted a few examples of land art by some wonderful artists. Land art is the integration of land, space, and natural elements as art. The works are often impermanent, or subject to slow alteration and deterioration, as part of the artist’s intent. Art that is written in the sand and sketched on water.

Caddisfly  Photo: heatherkh/Flickr

A fancier caddisfl cocoon y
Photo: heatherkh/Flickr

I hesitate to call the caddisfly an artist in the human sense of the word. But to the extent that artwork is a manifestation of intuition, instinct and functionality, then the caddisfly – related to moths and butterflies – is an artist when it comes to its cocoon. Like moths and butterflies, the caddisfly larva builds a cocoon of silk in which to pupate.

What makes the caddisfly different is that it often uses a variety of materials as a part of its cocoon, seeking objects and weaving them together into unique home.

Caddisfly cocoons, made in water tanks filled with gold flakes, semi-precious and precious stones.  Credit: Hubert Duprat

Caddisfly cocoons, made in water tanks filled with gold flakes, semi-precious and precious stones.
Credit: Hubert Duprat

It should come as no surprise that this predisposition has been put to human use. I’m not sure the caddisfly is any happier whether using pebbles or gold and precious gems for its cocoon, but the results – by human standards – are undeniably interesting.

And it is a collaboration of sorts between artist, Hubert Duprat and the larvae, even if the larvae seems to be providing an unwitting service.

According to a gallery featuring his work (he works in many other mediums), artist Hubert Duprat is “a supporter of an artistic tradition inherited from the Renaissance that does not compartmentalize the different forms of inquiry and curiosity; the artist sees the world as an inexhaustible repertoire of images mineral, plant, animal and cultural.”

Caddisfly cocoons made solely from their own silk. Image:  James C. Hodges, Jr.

Caddisfly cocoons made solely from their own silk.
Image: James C. Hodges, Jr.

 

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