Dandelion: Fire Bird

Dandelions became another world when I looked at them close up.

I saw the fire bird.

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Ivan Bilibin (1876-1942). Illustration for  Contes de l'isba : Ivan-Tsarevich and the Firebird

Ivan Bilibin (1876-1942). Illustration for Contes de l'isba: Ivan-Tsarevich and the Firebird

The discovery of shared forms and colours.


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“The discovery of shared forms” is a way to post-anthropocentric thought. It’s is about seeing repeating patterns across scales, and recognising similarities in shape of seemingly disconnected entities. It draws human and nonhuman domains together, from human imaginations to flowers, insects, and beyond, and so it provides a way out of thinking of the “human-nature divide”. If you’re interested, check out Chapter 6 of King & Page’s book on posthumanism and the graphic novel.

Secret traditions: visit the flower before you die

I notice a lot of bumblebees resting or napping in flowers. They also seek out flowers as a resting place shortly before they die. A flower might give some food and shelter from the elements, but is it enough? Might the bees have additional reasons for choosing the flower as a resting place?

Could it be that they find some kind of peace, comfort, or pleasure in the soft, colourful, fragrant shapes of the flower?

Thinking along these lines, it almost sounds like a religious, spiritual or cultural tradition….

and so, she disappears into the light.

You might think all of this sounds crazy, but there is some serious research looking into questions of beauty and the sensory perceptions of nonhumans, including insects (eg. as discussed here). There is even research that asks if animals might have culture or folklore.

I’m fascinated by the idea that animals can have aesthetic preferences. That they know beauty. Not (or not only) because it serves some kind of function (like an indicator of health, vigour or nutrition), but just because there are things they feel attracted to — which are not always explicable. Why is something beautiful to you? Beauty is elusive to humans, too. 

a final drink

To me, it makes sense that we should no longer think of insects as automatons that just carry out tasks and respond mechanically to their surroundings. Instead, we can think of them as agents who experience the world in multi-sensory ways, and are attracted (or repulsed) to the smells, textures, colours and shapes around them.

Beauty, a dialogue between perceiver and perceived. 

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My thoughts are inspired by feminist writers Hustak & Meijers — this is a good read:

Hustak, C. & Myers, N. (2012) Involutionary Momentum: Affective Ecologies and the Sciences of Plant/Insect Encounters. d i f f e r e n c e s: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 23 (3), doi 10.1215/10407391-1892907

Flower: an insect perspective

We often appreciate flowers as still life. But they're not still.
This video captures something that may be closer to an insect perspective: the flower on the move.
Flower and wind in real time. Blow your head, poppy.

Flowers are expressive and sway. I tried to capture this with music. Insects need to consider the movements of a flower when they plan to spend some time together. Hold on tight.
This is a landscape where I’d like to spend some time, even though it’s hectic. Inviting textures and shapes, intimate internal structures, deep colour.


Below is my discovery of the day: sunflower and dandelion have spiral shapes in common.

And this: a dandelion on its way out looks like it’s about to burst into flames.