Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Bestiary : : The Average Ladybug and the Butterfly

Inky has always told me that every insect is unique. At first I thought he was talking about different species -- that a praying mantis is not the same as a stag beetle. "Well, duh." But it turned out he meant the individuals within a species. Of course I didn't believe him.

Turns out I was wrong.

Onetime-Australian* artist Natalie Jeremijenko wanted to demonstrate the variety that exists among ladybugs. She created a short animation:

"200 individual ladybugs selected from a population of approximately four thousand, become the frames in an animation. The ladybug images are scaled, color corrected and ordered by similarity — with computational algorithms that are used in face recognition software — to animate the pattern on their backs.

Although idiomatic individuals are usually used to represent a species (e.g. Audubon Guide), seeing the range and diversity within the category has historically been underrepresented."

Ladybug animation >>

After that Ms Jeremijenko turned her attention to the slightly more showy but equally as generic monarch butterfly. Through Six Generations charts the development of the markings on the butterflys' wings.

"Six generation of monarch butterfly -- as many generations as make a single continental journeys -- each become a frame in the animation. The simple 2-d pigmentation system of butterfly wing patterns may provide the first opportunity to actually "see genes". That is, the pigment pattern is one of the few genetic systems that is, in principal, knowable, because it possible to fully understand all control pathways in the system at the chemical and molecular level. Uncovering the full sequence of events that links genotype and phenotype -- something that has yet to be done for any morphological (visible) event - provides a unique visual opportunity that the butterfly animation project exploits."

Butterfly animation

There is a scarey biography: Natalie H.M. Jeremijenko's bio >>

Via The Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society >>

* Director de Plume can't help but feel supportive of others who've grown up in the Middle of Nowhere -- in Natalie's case -- the Back of Beyond the Middle of Nowhere. You go girl!


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