communication and design with an insect
Grey silverfish (ctenolepisma longicaudata) are insects that are unintentionally distributed worldwide by humans and have so far only been found inside or near human houses. Their natural habitat is still unknown. Because they are able to feed on paper and thereby destroy man-made things, they are considered pests and are fought as such. They live in close dependence on people and at the same time escape their control. They embody a piece of nature that, despite human efforts for sterility, spreads in our living spaces and disrupts our order. Their species belongs to the group of wingless insects (Apterygota), the origin of which probably dates back to 300 million years ago.
In collaboration with the biologist Bill Landsberger and the Rathgen-Research laboratory in Berlin I examined the eating behavior of grey silverfish and their preferences for certain colors or types of paper. For this I designed graphics that make the feeding marks of the animals and possible preferences easily visible. The respective reactions of the animals to a test series determined the design of the following series. I influenced their behavior through the coloring on my prints, but at the same time they determined my design through their behavior. A mutual process developed, a dialogue through graphic means, between the animals and me as a human.
The transformation of the prints by the animals becomes an elementary part of the design process. The pests change to co-producers of this work. In any case, the term pest is purely anthropocentric. From the perspective of most living things, we humans should be considered the greatest pest.
This work was part of my Diploma-Thesis at Hochschule Darmstadt and was exhibited there in the "Winterdiplomschau 19/20".