CONTEXT & ANALYSIS
In October I was thinking a great deal about hymenoptera, after watching the documentary The Vanishing of the Bees.
It details the alarming decline of honey bee populations across the globe.
SInce its release, the phrase “colony collapse disorder”, or CCD, has become almost a household term. As this article from the BBC corroborates,“neonicotinoid chemicals in pesticides are believed to harm bees,” and may be a cause of CCD.
I happened to find a bumblebee the first week of school, which I incorporated into my first piece. The bee was run through with a straight pin and then surrounded by a cut paper cross, a miniature crucifixion. The piece was tagged with the inscription bombus terrestris (its Latin name), and corpus vile, again a Latin phrase meaning: a person or thing fit only to be the object of an experiment. This calls to mind the long tradition of pining and labeling insect specimens, to preserve in museums or to study in another location.
This tradition is a strong undercurrent in the work of Mark Fairnington.
Mark Fairnington Specimen (4), oil on canvas, 215x183cm, 2000
I wanted to make work representing my research from the beginning of the term, and was especially interested in incorporating the chemical formula of a neonicotinoid pesticide in comparison the the shape of a honeycomb. Referencing Eric Grissell’s book “Bees, Wasps, and Ants” I started making drawings of obese bees.
The drawings looked like illustrations from a Little Golden Book, or a vintage classroom.
I decided to produce the image as a large CMYK silkscreen print, which made them look even more like old children’s illustrations. They also took on some unexpected qualities because of the medium. The parts of the images where the registration was imperfect, or where the ink bled imparted a new visual theme of slippage which correlates with slippage in our environment.
Overall I’m afraid that this bee silkscreen project ended up being too literal and didactic. The images are just too ubiquitous and cliched, and reminiscent of an environmentalist poster.
On a positive note, I did gain some practical photoshop skills in bitmapping my drawings and separating the colors for printing. Although this was a very different kind of research process for me, this project still had a very illustrative atmosphere, like some of my earlier works.
After this rather unsuccessful attempt at incorporating research, I decided to try making without over thinking the content.
I began working on a woodcut print using organic wing shapes, as well as some more illustrative pieces.