‘Gramophone weevil’ is one of a series of sculptures combining my interests in Zoology and woodcarving. The entire piece was made from timber collected, with permission, from Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire. The ‘vinyl’ is actually charcoal dust cast in resin (and in case you are wondering, I haven’t tried playing it!)
‘Gramophone Weevil’ imagines a future world where modified insects, produced for a particular short-lived role, are easier to come by than scarce vinyl records. This creature has been engineered and produced to play records until it needs to be replaced. The mouthparts are purely adapted to hold the needle that plays the vinyl, as it doesn’t have to feed to perform its function.
The sculpture reflects my concerns about some current research projects (specifically the US Defence Department’s HI-MEMS project), which look to engineer insects into tools for human use. Considering how much longer insects have been around on this planet, I can’t see success in such endeavours ultimately ending well for humans in general.
This particular piece was also partly inspired by the amazing VW camper record player in Money Mark’s ‘Hand in your Head’ video.
‘Scorpion fly’ is one of a series imagining the potential results of the ‘HI-MEMS’ project, currently being undertaken by the US Defence Department. This project is trying to find a way to implant controlling and offensive technologies into insects.
Although most entomologists are sceptical about the chances of success, billions of dollars have been poured into this project.
Given the huge numbers of offspring that each insect could potentially produce, I reasoned that the ultimate goal would have to be to implant nanofactories, rather than individual nanodevices to perform whatever job is required of the insect. These tiny factories could then make reproductions of themselves as well as whatever device they were designed to make, with the new factories becoming implanted into the insect’s offspring and so continuing the process.
Of course, with both insects and technology reproducing the potential for mutation and rapid evolution also increases, as well as the chances of technologies crossing between species. It would be very hard to keep control of such a process and humans don’t have a great record of keeping control of interventions in the natural order: cane toads in Australia being an obvious example.
If such creatures could breed and evolve, what would they become?