Insects are the most diverse creatures on the planet. They are integral to healthy ecology and assist with pollinating plants, soil management and pest control. Over a million insect species have been named and it has been estimated that perhaps there are over four million to be discovered.
Yet despite this, insect populations are plummeting and scientists are scrambling to identify some of the unknown species before they are gone. It is unknown whether it is climate change, pesticides, or loss of habitat to farms and cities that is causing their demise.
With the current COVID restrictions there has been a trend to get back to nature. Indeed, studies have shown that spending time in nature has the power to transcend many of the modern illnesses of society and even something as simple as forest bathing has demonstrated it can improve our mental health.
Camping has been an activity that has helped us cope with the uncertainties that COVID brings. Spending time in nature with the ability to unplug from the ever present connection with our smartphone (and demands of society) has been rejuvenating, reconnecting and reestablishing our sense of self. Disconnecting allowed time to observe the intricate and complex relationships within nature. These relationships demonstrate that everything is interconnected, that everything depends on one another for a symbiotic relationship where all life forms exist in harmony.
On the shorelines of Nova Scotia we have observed these natural spaces, constantly changing with the tides and the weather. Our camping experiences became a space in which change could be sustained as a continuing displacement of a fixed and stable self. Observing ourselves and these natural environments, we realised that much in nature: the fertilized egg; the chrysalis are all liminal states of being. Suspended between realities. They are transitions, filled with possibility. The only constant is change. Realising that life is constantly in a liminal state of being, we must be open to these changes with the view of striving for a better world and relationship with all life forms on our planet.
Our experiences of camping invoked a sense of place, inspired daydreams and night dreams, generated streams of consciousness, sequences and body feelings, and in the process we understood the landscape differently.
Reminiscent of research projects where scientists backlight a white sheet to attract, count and catalogue to gain a better understanding of insects in a certain region, we replicated that process at a site specific location in Nova Scotia. Our proposal for Lumiere was to create an audio visual animation that was about 5 minute long. The insects were filmed using analog film, which was then digitized and combined with animations of microscopic viruses or 'bugs', which can also be a common cold, influenza, or lately the covid 19 virus. Bugs can also refer to a computer glitch or error.
Audio by John Kennedy - liminal sounds reminiscent of a night of camping: the high pitched whine of mosquitoes, the chirping of frogs, the constant purring of crickets and the crackle of a campfire, all recorded on location on the wild shores of Nova Scotia.
Premiered at Lumiere, Art at Night event, Sydney NS, September, 2022.