Luvermnuncher, 2001, 700cm x 400 cm, laser image on photocopy paper, installed in Wild Sheep Chase, 2001.

Flat bed scan of a miniature praying mantis approx 7.5 cm long, 4.5 cm high from toe to ear. This creature is part of a novelty toy collection found inside a popular brand of chocolate. 

A still image from Them!, a 1954 American black and white science fiction film based on an original story treatment by George Worthing Yates; developed into a screenplay by Ted Sherdeman and Russell Hughes for Warner Bros. Pictures Inc.; produced by David Weisbart and directed by Gordon Douglas for the company. Starring James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon (featured) and James Arness.

In 1953 the film Them! was originally conceived to be in 3D and WarnerColor, but sadly Warner Bro's 3D camera rig malfunctioned just before the first day of production, so the film was shot as a wide screen, black and white. 

Micro to macro

Luvermuncher, 2001, 7x4 meters, photocopy on laser paper collage

Luvamuncher has been exhibited in:

In the 1954 black and white movie THEM! a colony of desert ants receive a dose of radioactive residue from World War II nuclear testing. The only word a traumatised child can hysterically scream, having witnessed her parents devoured by these monsters, is 'them!' A pivotal scene involves the heroine, an apprentice entomologist; separated from her companions in a wild desert storm, she suddenly finds herself confronted by a giant ant defending its territory. Alone and in danger, curiosity for these impressive creatures outweighs her fear. Keeping her head and using her knowledge of ant behaviour, she assists the authorities to outsmart them, thus saving the world.

Situated in the first decade of the cold war and in the climate of atomic terror, one can easily identify the many metaphors describing the 'us against them' psychology. But this studio mythology also pinpoints the development of modern science in the atomic age. It reflect the growing authority of scientific knowledge and the role of the observer applying knowledge to visualise the unknown. 

Now that lenses allow us to see microscopic organisms previously invisible to the naked eye, the infinitesimal can appear to us like monsters. I wondered what my collection of miniaturised plastic objects would look like in the macro.

As an experiment I prepared a praying mantis to be enlarged to seven meters wide by four meters high. Giving the creature a dose of irradiation in Photoshop, I then tiled the image in QuarkXpress (the publishing program of the day) so that I could enlarge it in sections. Using the available technology, such as laser printer, the work required an entire 500 ream pack of A4 laser paper. To piece this enormous puzzle together, I used the registration marks and a time function which printed on the edge of each page. Printing the image from left to right, I used the recorded time to work out the sequential order of each page; one page printed every minute. This information was cropped in the main body but I kept it at the very edges to perfectly emulated scientific data. 

Its title Luvamuncha, plays on the phenomena of sexual cannibalism displayed by praying mantis mating while under laboratory observation; the female eats the males head. Whether they do this or not in a natural environment is currently debatable. An excellent example of this revolting act can be found on You Tube. Beware, it is graphic!

Female praying mantis eats male after mating 

Science creates supersoldier ants with ancient genes