Amphibious. This is a place for stories that lurk in everyday surroundings, and for sharing ideas about hybrid creature narratives across time and space in art, literature, photography, and video. Let’s immerse.
From human imaginations to nature documentations, this blog appreciates that we always see the natural world through human eyes (and other senses or human-made tools), and that we can get to know other beings in different ways, from science to folklore. I created this playful and thoughtful outlet to explore what happens when you combine such different ways of knowing. I stumble upon beautiful and mindblowing tales, imagery, and creatures in daily life and during my multispecies research in visual narrative. My ongoing interest in natural history, animism, medieval bestiaries, herbal manuscript, fairytales, folktales, (children’s) poetry, and comics leads me on some twisted paths. In my mind, the many ways of combining story and images result in some kind of hybrid creatures in their own right, alive somehow, as the stories speak to us when we read/view them.
Hybrid creatures come in many guises. From human/animal/plant imaginations, personifications, and evocative names we give others, to the creatures themselves that resemble one another — whether imagined or shaped in interactions over evolutionary time (the moth that mimics a birch branch; the slug adorned with leaf-veined patterns). Even the smallest insect can have surprising similarities to bigger things, humans included. Leaving a mark on someone else, creatures always live with and within one another; not just the parasites and their hosts. They story their own worlds as they make sense of and interpret their surroundings.
This is about animist storytelling, beauty, and finding ways to relate to other beings through new experiments and forgotten wisdoms. Old human tales often convey worlds where humans are not separated from nature but fully integrated with other life forms, elements, motions, rhythms, structures, shapes. Seamless blends of imagination and observation are more than pure fantasy or escapism: they consider the liveliness of the world and the awful and awesome feelings they bring; they tell us of how our environments can be ‘read’ and experienced, and how other entities look back at us. Like us, they are responsive, ever-changing, shapeshifting; yet they often escape our wits, and our ability to fully comprehend their mysteries. You are invited to share your thoughts and point me in unseen directions. Let curiosity launch us into more attentive relations with our surroundings.
Isn’t the human imagination* some kind of wilderness born from the same earth as expressive and experiencing others, no matter how weird or tiny?
Images and tales shown on this website are my own creations or reference the source where possible. *David Abram’s book “The Spell of the Sensuous” and environmental philosophers Thom van Dooren & Deborah Rose are huge inspirations for my take on the interplay between stories, language, and the natural world. If anyone has problems with me showing an image, please contact me. This website is for reviewing and educational purposes, and documents my process towards developing a sensory & visual language that expresses humans and other creatures alike. If you’d like to learn more, visit the author’s link below.
Suus Agnes Claessen