New Light, 2020, Composite photograph
In a setting like this several different species are all flying at once, all displaying unique patterns of light.
Lightning bugs, fireflies, glowworms…
One night, these insects seemed to suddenly appear at my temporary residence in Northern Vermont.
They had been nestled in the Earth, waiting.
There are over 2000 different species of lightning bugs worldwide.
They live between 1-2 years, but only produce light as an adult for about a month in the summer, enough to mate.
Lightning Bug Life Cycle:
Egg ~3 weeks
Larva ~50-102+ weeks
Pupa ~3 weeks
Adult (light) ~3-4 weeks
Communication through light is something humans share with lightning bugs. Ancient humans made fire to signal from far distances. Ships at sea communicate in morse code with signal lamps, and use lighthouses as markers. Now, we send incredible amounts of information through light, transmitted and received beyond Earth through satellites and back down through cables under the sea.
But, it began as something simple.
A blink of light.
Field of Lights, Video, 0:17 mins.
The population peaks. Lightning strikes and adds photons to the scene.
Sped up to accent the trails of light.
A blink of energy.
A chemical reaction.
A new light.
Light, the kind human eyes can’t perceive (infrared), is what brings this content to your viewing screen at this very moment. Humans have that means of communication in common with many other animals on this planet.
Interspecies communication can extend empathy and curiosity of different life forms on the planet. I sat with the lightning bugs and extended my own biology through the technology of an LED (light emitting diode). I wasn’t sure what I was saying, but it reminded me of the signals we send out to the far reaches of space, probing and exploring the darkness.
Maybe it was because I had been in isolation, but there seemed to be some kind of invisible barrier between myself and these creatures. When that individual landed on my hand, it was one of the few moments of touch I’ve experienced recently.
I documented these events as a way to share some found solace in these times, and to think about the relationship between technology and animals. Not only as a metaphor, but as an interaction.
Land use changes, environmental pollution, and loss of habitat area are causing a decline in lighting bugs, and much of life on Earth.
A Cadence, Video, 1:09 mins.
A male is flashing, and a female answers the signal in the grass with a single blink.