A smattering of documentation of performance experiments on Bug Studies: photo, audio, video, journals, critical reflection all looking toward a future multimedia performance on my process collaborating with Dermestid (AKA 'flesh-eating') beetles.

 

Bug Studies is a work in progress. 

 

*Portfolio work as part of PhD thesis on Bodies and Boundaries in Performing Taxidermy; Critical reflection excerpts below. 

"Considering a way of ‘interacting with,’ which in the context of my practice-research means finding some point of bodily contact or exchange without resorting to handling them the way I have frequently handled other non-human animals (and, I suppose, human too), creates the question of what is it about my body, or what does or can my body do, that provides alternative ways of interacting. This is where thinking of my body as material shows significance. I have previously drawn (my own) blood in my art practice via piercing needles or syringes, and given that one of the beetle’s primary sites of interacting in the world is with dead flesh - bodily material not of a living body - this became the main experiment with them."

"I get a small gauge needle from my body-modificaton-hobbyist kit and drive it into one of the bigger veins on the top of my wrist. I let a large drop of blood fall into the tank next to the dry rat carcass. Within a minute, several of them had rushed quickly over and put their faces in the droplet."

"In earlier work,[i] I have drawn from New Materialist theory, in particular Bennett’s, to consider the significance of eating in my practice-research. This has largely been my eating of other materials, particularly goods made from animal bodies (chocolate), and how eating creates an assemblage of both human and non-human elements in which the ‘eaten’ becomes a part of the ‘eater.’ In Bennett’s chapter ‘Edible Matter’[ii], the focus is on human eating and human ‘foods’ with a political relevance to food as a material actant in issues of diet, obesity, and food security. From a New Materialist perspective, eating is a ‘series of mutual transformations;’ humans are not the only life that requires and pursues nourishment, and the eaten and eater ‘recorporealise in response to each other.’[iii] In this way, not only am I able to find new sites of interaction between myself and the bugs by feeding them my own material body but also share material qualities of the dead animals I have worked with for so long. I am, for the bugs, ‘matter to be acted upon;’[iv] this performance experiment may suggest how materiality provides lines of thinking outside anthropocentrism. Eating served not only as a pathway to blurring body boundaries, but also as my only means of evaluating how my colony is living."

 

[i] See Immaculate Confection (2018)

[ii] Bennett, J. (2010), Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Duke University Press, p. 39-51.

[iii] Ibid., p. 49.

[iv] Ibid., p. 48

bugs: sample audio documentation