In_Sect — The Wandering Room

Gympie Regional Art Gallery, 10 November 2009 – 23 January 2010

“Man, of course, is the primary species of which we think when we are considering animals that live in societies. Yet the insect societies antedate man’s by many millions of years… functioning on this level perhaps as much as 100 million years ago…” (Larson, ix)

Throughout the ages humans have attempted to understand the animal world in relation to our own and nowhere is this compulsion of anthropomorphism more notoriously exhibited than toward the behavior of insects.

Any entomologist will tell you these parallels are superficial at best and downright egocentric at worst. The inter-reliance and inter-connectivity demonstrated by insects create innumerable complex relationships unparalleled in human socialisation. While we have fostered a world of cultural transmission, insects are busy cultivating a genetic one- a balance entirely effecting and affected by the environment around them. Constituting over half of animal life on the planet, the number of Earth’s insect species cannot be estimated, let alone closely examined and fully understood. If any sincere parallel were to be drawn between us and our arthropod counterparts, it could only be that we are as vague about the complexity of socialised insects as we are about the complexity of our own infinite and diverse systems of representation and belonging.

Through a sort of reverse anthropomorphism, In_Sect provides some observations of the invertebrate kind for these (comparatively) modern human dilemmas. With a fair bit of creative license, In_Sect flips the power balance to test the networks of interrelation and reliance which have served the insect populous for 100 million years in order to shed light on our habits. This investigation is particularly poignant when considering the contemporary issues of overpopulation and the corresponding lack of environmental resources which has rendered humankind something of a swarm in its own right.

In_Sect executed these ideas through collectively building a physical structure born out of a common social system of eating, learning and working together. This structure, in the most literal sense, is a living room. The artists describe this installation as a ‘hive’ in which hours upon hours of collective time was spent constructing, scavenging and fabricating domestic materials- utilising the stuff of our interiors to recreate an experience of ‘home’. Conversely, TV monitors randomly nestled in this interior depict urban exteriors- those of city streets, shopping malls, airports and bush land. In the safety of the soft, colourful commune the viewer is able to critically consider the more macro habits of humans as socialised animals. These projections act as experiments, transforming the human landscape through arthropod behaviour in order to suggest new possibilities. In this way, In_Sect has nominated co-operation as a system of survival, a way to successfully generate living spaces. Their combined labour, observations and expressions are harvested into a singular idea, its knitted fabrics metaphorically representing human inter-connection.

It is often forgotten that how we relate to ourselves, our environments and each other is one choice out of many. Through their insect avatars, In_Sect physically connects these strings together to remind us of other possibilities for human socialisation which have literally been under our shoes the whole time.

More about the In_Sect project of The Wandering Room Artist Collective can be located here