Both/And not Either/Or

 About 10 years ago, I saw an amazing skill…from a cuttlefish.

This cuttlefish could change his entire body’s color, shape, and texture to camouflage with his surroundings. 

An expert, he was given many tests of his abilities, and they were all impressive.

This little being had evolved to match his appearance with the shadows, rocks, plants, and even other animals of the ocean floor. He was perfect.

I loved the little being.

The researchers, under Roger Hanlon of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, kept testing him with different patterns and backgrounds and he passed beautifully.

Then he was given a man-made background. It was a black, white and checkerboard.

(Here is the video of this).

and a great article.

Can Cuttlefish camouflage in a living room? | Richard Hammond's Miracles of  Nature - BBC - YouTube

This was beyond his ability. He came pretty close.

The reason? Squares. 

Squares are not found in nature. 

Here we were taking this being from an ancient cephalopod lineage and we had the hubris to test his abilities. And we found that his limit was imitating unnatural things: something humans had conceived.

Was it a weakness?

How are we judging?

Is the human super-power the ability to create the unnatural? the non-integrated or creation without consideration?

The art world is always touching upon this topic of creation, sometimes with great consideration and other times (seemingly) not. 

As artists, we have the ability to have a foot in two worlds. With one we create and build and with the other that is already in existence, we interact with our fellow world inhabitants.

It isn’t always about the dichotomy: technology vs nature, man vs beast, civilization vs wilderness, modern vs ancient, etc.

There is that beautiful sweet spot that we can credit to artists and creatives. Its a place where old wisdom, that has been cultivated from understanding the earth as “partner”, gives rise to an appreciation for our earthly resources and its limitations. Perhaps, it can even serve as the interwoven guiding principles toward a long term appreciation of the world we leave for our children. A deeper legacy.

And perhaps, a deeper love.

We artist humans can create beautiful things that nature did not. But, nature, long the staple spark of creative contemplation, give us the tools. 


(for Quinn)

part of the Material Evolutions series.

Repurposed costume jewelry and textiles on canvas.

 22"H x18"W




Both/And detail 1


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