Portraits of the nonhuman: visualizations of the malevolent insect.

Coutts, N. (2006) Portraits of the nonhuman: visualizations of the malevolent insect. In: Insect poetics. Brown, Eric, ed. University of Minnesota Press, pp. 298-318. ISBN 0-8166-4696-1. [Book Section]


Coutts's research questions how perception is mediated through an accumulation of found images and inherited associations. In written and visual practices she addresses what constitutes appropriation in art and what a re-engagement with found materials can achieve in the relationship between contemporary artwork and viewer.

‘Portraits of the Nonhuman….' is a chapter in Insect Poetics. The book focuses on the influence of a natural history of insects upon human intellectual and cultural activities. Particularities of insects as cultural signifiers are identified and proposed as ways of thinking about “insectivity,” suggesting productive cross-pollinations between entomology and the arts.

Coutts's contribution to Insect Poetics examines unsettling representations of the insect in visual art and literature. Through examining the insect on Medieval transi tombs, in the work of Matthias Grünewald, contemporary artists Mark Fairnington, John Stezaker and the anthropological writings of Mary Douglas the insect is explored as signifying some of the qualities of ‘otherness' introduced by Eric Brown,(ed.) Insects are proposed as indicative of illusory principles rarely associated with an idealized Nature. This chapter, developed from extensive research into the use of insects to create destabilizing imagery, contributes a visual artist's perspective to those from specialists in other areas within the Humanities.

Insect Poetics, containing seventeen contributions, was published in Minneapolis, U.S.A. and distributed in the U.S.A. Europe, UK, Japan, Israel, Australia, and New Zealand. It has been reviewed online with print reviews in Chronicle of Philanthropy (Nov 06, ISSN 0009-5982) and ForeWord magazine, (ISBN: 142594332) with Coutts's text singled out for its survey of insect imagery in contemporary art.

Following ‘Insect Poetics' Coutts was invited to lecture at Cambridge University at the Centre for Animal Welfare and Anthrozoology and contributed a paper to Antennae Journal, Issue 3, Vol. 3 November, 2007.

Portfolio available.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Art and Design
Item ID: 431
Depositing User: Repository team
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2008 15:50
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:11
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/431

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