Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Nature’s Twitterers

Artist/scientist captures intimacy of insects

Express Staff Writer

Catherine Chalmers would like humanity to work more like the natural world.

But rather than pontificate, she provides an intimate look at the structure and behavior of nature with the eye of a scientist and the tools of an artist, tirelessly photographing intimate minutia to show the world a better way. Her subjects have included mice, cockroaches and now, leafcutter ants.

Chalmers, who debuted her documentary with husband Charles Lindsey "We Rule" at the Sun Valley Film Festival in March is opening her show "The Leafcutters" at Friday's Gallery Walk, Aug. 3, at Gallery De Novo.

"Captured in astounding detail, the photographs provide insight to the pride and personality of the individual ants as they present their offerings and share in their daily rituals," Gallery DeNovo Director Robin Reiners said. "These photographs along with the drawings and the video in this exhibition is a multisensory feast."

In an interview provided by Reiners, Chalmers said, "As 'The Leafcutters' project developed, I came to feel [that] the real reward for lying countless hours on the ground was observing the ants' social structure. Their networked system of communication rivals the Internet. Individual antennae touches are like Google hits. It's nonstop text messaging. Twitter on steroids. The accumulation of their small gestures produces great complexity. Ant society is not top down, but bottom up, not command and control, but connect and collaborate. It's multiple decisions made by multiple minds and therein lies their power."

Asked if she ruled the world, what was one thing she would change?

"I wish that humanity was more in tune with the natural world and that our lifestyle was no longer destroying so much of it."

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