Background Image:© Francesca Todde / Contrasto from the series A Sensitive Education
Background Image:© Francesca Todde / Contrasto from the series A Sensitive Education

Tuula Närhinen: From the series Insects among Us: Nature Morte & Wing Beats, 2019

Tuula Närhinen’s series of works Insects among Us examines the coexistence of humans and insects.

We rarely see dead insects in nature. Birds, frogs or fish gobble up their remains, and insects quickly end up as part of the food chain. In the series’ installation Nature Morte, this continuum has been suspended: dead insects are embalmed in coffins. These tiny coffins are made of jewellery boxes, eyeglass cases and designer product packaging.

The starting point of the sound installation Wing Beats is the invention of the entomologist Olavi Sotavalta. In 1952, Sotavalta published an article in Nature magazine which proved that insect species closely resembling each other can be better identified by sound than by appearance. Thanks to his absolute pitch, the musically inclined Sotavalta was able to accurately determine the frequency of buzzing and translate it into the tonal register of instrumental music. In Närhinen’s work, the sounds of insects are recorded with a pair of stereo microphones drilled into the opposite sides of a Karaoke Booth. Composer Tytti Arola has edited and (re)composed the buzzing of insect wings and the drumming of bug legs into binaural* music.

Tuula Närhinen (b. 1967) is a multidisciplinary visual artist working in Finland and exploring ecological issues and natural phenomena. Many of Närhinen’s works serve to emphasise the collaboration of the artist, nature and photographic instruments that transcribes phenomena into visual plots.

Binaural sound refers to a three-dimensional audio effect similar to a stereoscopic image. It is produced with microphones placed the same width apart as human ears.