Moth Liturgy, 2016
A series of seven pigment inkjet prints on archival rag paper digitally reiterating camera-less images on gelatin silver films made on location at Mount Buffalo, Victoria. Each print 51 cm x 187 cm on a 61 cm x 200 cm rag paper sheet. Produced as edition of one + artist’s proof. Enquire here.
Over a recent summer hundreds of native Bogong Moths Agrotis infusa were carefully gathered alive from a summit cave at Mount Buffalo high in the Australian Alps. At night, gelatin silver films suspended behind the huddled, crawling and fluttering Lepidoptera were exposed to a light pulse without a camera. The resulting monochrome negatives traced their diminutive shadows at life-scale.
We tend to regard insects as odious and mindless. Tonally inverted, vividly colourized and greatly enlarged, these digital reiterations are unmoored from the scale and context of their source film imagery. Yet this very distancing and artificiality reveals a beauty, agency – even a sense of the numinous – in abject creatures we might otherwise not perceive. As a ‘keystone’ species critical to and dependent upon a fragile upland ecosystem increasingly disturbed by anthropogenic climate change, these shadows portend an imminent absence.
Moth Liturgy was exhibited at Stephen MacLaughlin Gallery, Melbourne in March 2017. Many of the original plein air films scanned to produce Moth Liturgy are to be included in a major new multi-piece artwork scheduled for completion in 2018.