Insects in Pop Culture, Art, and Music

A special issue of Insects (ISSN 2075-4450).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2011) | Viewed by 57851

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
School of Human Ecology, University of Wisconsin, 1214 Sterling Hall, 475 N Charter St, Madison, WI 53706, USA

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Children’s literature is populated with wonderful six legged characters such as the insect companions in Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach or the fabulously glamorous cockroach in La Cuchuracha Martina based on a Caribbean folk tale. In fact, what is considered the first children’s story in the English language which was not a moral tale or fable is The Butterflies Ball and The Grasshoppers Feast by William Roscoe dating from 1808. In the Victorian era, both adults and children were introduced to the natural world through a large number of educational publications in which insects were anthropomorphized so as to have greater appeal to the general reading public. Voracious collecting of all manner of plant and wildlife was extremely popular at that time. However in this millennium, an adult’s worry of insects extends to serious diseases such as West Nile Virus, dengue fever and malaria. In fact there is a certain hysteria, as insects culturally are a sign of dirtiness and disease in the Western world.

Currently many artists play on the public’s intense dislike of insects. For example American Catherine Chalmers’ gigantic photographic portraits of cockroaches in domestic settings repulse many viewers.  Yet other artists’ use of insects amazes and inspires. In 2002, Belgian Jan Fabre decorated the 19th-century Hall of Mirrors of the Brussels Royal Palace and the central chandelier with the elytra of a million Asian jewel beetles.

This issue is devoted to exploring insects in art, music and literature.

Prof. Jennifer Angus
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • insect art
  • insects in art
  • insect sounds in music
  • butterfly art
  • insects and textiles
  • insect dyes
  • insect embellishment
  • insects in literature

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

3171 KiB  
Article
The Curious Connection Between Insects and Dreams
by Barrett A. Klein
Insects 2012, 3(1), 1-17; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects3010001 - 21 Dec 2011
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 24995
Abstract
A majority of humans spend their waking hours surrounded by insects, so it should be no surprise that insects also appear in humans’ dreams as we sleep. Dreaming about insects has a peculiar history, marked by our desire to explain a dream’s significance [...] Read more.
A majority of humans spend their waking hours surrounded by insects, so it should be no surprise that insects also appear in humans’ dreams as we sleep. Dreaming about insects has a peculiar history, marked by our desire to explain a dream’s significance and by the tactic of evoking emotions by injecting insects in dream-related works of art, film, music, and literature. I surveyed a scattered literature for examples of insects in dreams, first from the practices of dream interpretation, psychiatry, and scientific study, then from fictional writings and popular culture, and finally in the etymology of entomology by highlighting insects with dream-inspired Latinate names. A wealth of insects in dreams, as documented clinically and culturally, attests to the perceived relevance of dreams and to the ubiquity of insects in our lives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insects in Pop Culture, Art, and Music)
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1044 KiB  
Article
Moths on the Flatbed Scanner: The Art of Joseph Scheer
by Stephen L. Buchmann
Insects 2011, 2(4), 564-583; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects2040564 - 14 Dec 2011
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 10977
Abstract
During the past decade a few artists and even fewer entomologists discovered flatbed scanning technology, using extreme resolution graphical arts scanners for acquiring high magnification digital images of plants, animals and inanimate objects. They are not just for trip receipts anymore. The special [...] Read more.
During the past decade a few artists and even fewer entomologists discovered flatbed scanning technology, using extreme resolution graphical arts scanners for acquiring high magnification digital images of plants, animals and inanimate objects. They are not just for trip receipts anymore. The special attributes of certain scanners, to image thick objects is discussed along with the technical features of the scanners including magnification, color depth and shadow detail. The work of pioneering scanner artist, Joseph Scheer from New York’s Alfred University is highlighted. Representative flatbed-scanned images of moths are illustrated along with techniques to produce them. Collecting and preparing moths, and other objects, for scanning are described. Highlights of the Fulbright sabbatical year of professor Scheer in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico are presented, along with comments on moths in science, folklore, art and pop culture. The use of flatbed scanners is offered as a relatively new method for visualizing small objects while acquiring large files for creating archival inkjet prints for display and sale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insects in Pop Culture, Art, and Music)
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134 KiB  
Article
Popularity of Different Lampyrid Species in Japanese Culture as Measured by Google Search Volume
by Kenta Takada
Insects 2011, 2(3), 336-342; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects2030336 - 5 Jul 2011
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 10615
Abstract
I investigated the popularity of different lampyrid species (34 species) in Japanese culture as part of a study on cultural entomology. Popularity was assessed by the Google search volume for Japanese lampyrid species names in katakana and hiragana scripts, using the Keyword Tool [...] Read more.
I investigated the popularity of different lampyrid species (34 species) in Japanese culture as part of a study on cultural entomology. Popularity was assessed by the Google search volume for Japanese lampyrid species names in katakana and hiragana scripts, using the Keyword Tool of Google AdWords. The search volume of lampyrid species as “Genji-botaru” (Luciola cruciata Motschulsky), “Heike-botaru” (Luciola lateralis Motschulsky) and “Hime-botaru” (Hotaria parvula Kiesenwetter), in either or both katakana and hiragana syllabic scripts, was enormously high relative to other lampyrid species, indicating the biased attention of Japanese to these lampyrid species. In addition, search volumes for familial or common lampyrid name (“Hotaru”) was assessed and compared with that of 34 lampyrid species. This analyzing result showed that: (1) the search volumes for katakana and hiragana were 37.7 and 773.1 times higher for “Hotaru” than “Genji-botaru”, respectively; and (2) the search volume for all lampyrid species was clearly higher in katakana than hiragana, whereas the search volumes for “Hotaru” were clearly higher in hiragana than katakana. These results suggest that: (1) the Japanese public tends to perceive lampyrids with not a clear but an ambiguous taxonomic view; and (2) the attitude of the Japanese public toward lampyrids differs between those who perceive lampyrids with a clear taxonomic view (at species level) and with an ambiguous taxonomic view. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insects in Pop Culture, Art, and Music)
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243 KiB  
Article
Noninsect Arthropods in Popular Music
by Joseph R. Coelho
Insects 2011, 2(2), 253-263; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects2020253 - 26 May 2011
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 9221
Abstract
The occurrence of noninsect arthropods in popular music was examined in order to explore human attitudes toward these species, especially as compared to insects. Crustaceans were the most commonly referenced taxonomic group in artist names, album titles and cover art, followed by spiders [...] Read more.
The occurrence of noninsect arthropods in popular music was examined in order to explore human attitudes toward these species, especially as compared to insects. Crustaceans were the most commonly referenced taxonomic group in artist names, album titles and cover art, followed by spiders and scorpions. The surprising prevalence of crustaceans may be related to the palatability of many of the species. Spiders and scorpions were primarily used for shock value, as well as totemic qualities of strength and ferocity. Spiders were the most abundant group among song titles, perhaps because of their familiarity to the general public. Three noninsect arthropod album titles were found from the early 1970s, then none appear until 1990. Older albums are difficult to find unless they are quite popular, and the resurgence of albums coincides with the rise of the internet. After 1990, issuance of such albums increased approximately linearly. Giant and chimeric album covers were the most common of themes, indicating the use of these animals to inspire fear and surprise. The lyrics of select songs are presented to illustrate the diversity of sentiments present, from camp spookiness to edibility. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insects in Pop Culture, Art, and Music)
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