Messages from Psyche
Butterflies: Messages from Psyche explores the phenomena of visual perception, illusion and reality, unveiling how insects employ colour and pattern to deceive and confuse their predators.
IPPY Bronze Medal 2011 – Ecology
Philip Howse explains how these living tapestries have been designed by evolution to protect insects from their principal predators, which include birds, lizards, monkeys. These insectivores, it is argued, detect their prey by perceiving small details of shape and colour rather than the ‘whole picture’ of the insect. If we look at the detail of a living butterfly in the way that a bird sees it from many different angles and perspectives, surprising images reveal themselves. There are features of owl eyes, snake heads, caterpillars, lizards, wasps, scorpions, birds’ beaks and feathers to be found there. Many butterflies and moths have bizarre combinations of images on their wings and bodies which prompt comparison with the works of art of the surrealists, such as Magritte and Dali. They have a similar effect: to unsettle the way in which things are normally perceived: to confuse and shock. Many of the signs and symbols also resonate within the human psyche, surfacing in our art, architecture, stories and legends.Purchase on Amazon
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