Monday 25 January 2010

Art Monday: what's this all about?

While I was at ScienceOnline2010, I was lucky enough to get in another fascinating conversation with Roger Harris. At one point, Roger was telling me about how he had explained the flying trilobites to someone, and I was riveted. It was an explanation I hadn't heard before, not far from my thoughts, but taken in a much more socially relevant direction (there aren't a lot of people more socially relevant than Roger, I suspect).

So what's this all about?

Why would I spend that last 14 years populating my drawings and paintings with trilobites with wings? Lend the concept to my blog's title and theme for the last (almost) 3 years?
What do you think these weird drawings mean to me, enough that I would actually get one tattooed on my left forearm?

I'd love to hear your thoughts and interpretations.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

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Christopher Zenga said...

Perhaps they represent your ability to leave the world behind when you draw,and the wings represent escape? Or you just like wings on fossils? Your call!

Luna_the_cat said...

Considering how many fossils they left there must have been trillions of the damn things crawling around over the years. And considering how...sheerly WEIRD...some of them became, they certainly speciated and colonised a lot of niches. Given this, it just seems like they *ought* to have taken to the air, at some point. Ya know?

I have no idea what it means to you, really. Maybe how to meld the inspiration of sheer imagination with what is ultimately very much a part of the real planet.

Glendon Mellow said...

Ooo, I like that answer, Chris!

Luna, your second paragraph is pretty much how I think about it. But you said it nicer.

The main impetus wasn't necessarily very deep, but I like how other pepp[le are starting to interpret things based, perhaps, on the rest of what I'm doing.

Mainly, I was thinking about how much I love creatures from world mythologies: so many of them are mash-up animal and human, or animal and animal. Griffins. Sphinxes. Minotaurs. Fairies.

Now with the wealth of current knowledge from zoology, microbiology and paleontology, it seems ripe for creating new fantastic beasts. Like dimetrodon-sphinxes and flying trilobites.

Interestingly, if I may add how I interpreted Roger Harris's comments, he coupled the idea of flying trilobites with a parody of creationism: if there were an intelligent designer, why wouldn't there be flying trilobites? Why not non-sensically make an aquatic creature fly, when you have omnipotence?

It had my mind mulling it over the whole way back from ScienceOnline. It's an interesting interpretation, not far from my idea of playing with new mythological forms, less for the fun of it, and more for socially instructive commentary.

I'm not sure how yet, but Roger's interpretation is likely to influence future iterations of my new paleo-myth forms.

Marco Meredith said...

Perhaps the flying trilobite represents your inability to accept the extinction of the genus?

wings can represent lots of different things, and you obviously have a passion for the natural world both past and present so maybe the flying trilobite is a link of some sort?

or maybe im not making any sense...

Glendon Mellow said...

Very cool interpretation, Marco! I like it. It's true, I share Richard Fortey's wish that they could be found in the stygian depths of the Pacific. Not likely though.

Maybe coelacanths eat them. Heh.

(Great designs, by the way, for Realms of Renth - other readers here should check out Marco Ferrigno's site. )

Roger Harris said...

Hey Glenn,

I love the Flying Trilobite! That's kind of what I had in mind when I thought about it.

If creationism is true, why is life limited in particular ways? How come there weren't bats and birds flying around when trilobites were swimming the oceans? Or for that matter why didn't any trilobites take to wing?

I think your art has a way of showing creationism for the absurdity it is without the torrent of words so often provided by otherwise well-meaning evolution supporters. And that can alienate some people who are uncertain about what position to take. A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

Thank you for sharing your imagination and talent with us lesser mortals. :)


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Posts over 14 days old have their comments held in moderation - I've been getting an unusual amount of spam for a guy who paints trilobites. I'll release it lickety-split though.

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