Although I have been an avid photographer for a long time, I have recently received recognition for a series of photographs of insects in flight. They were inspired by a lifelong interest in understanding how things work. Having noticed a fleeting, flickering trail from the corner of my eye one night as moths flew around a floodlight, I began to explore whether it was my imagination or perhaps a trick of the light.

Standard photography would not help as it merely produces stationary images of the subject frozen in space. What was required was the inclusion of a third dimension - time - into the process. I soon realized that the effect I had observed was light from rhythmic wing beats of the insects leaving a brief after-image on my retina. By using a long shutter time this effect can be captured onto a single frame so that the intricacy of flight can be clearly observed in the recorded shapes. More surprising, and revelatory to me, is the beauty and symmetry of the forms carved into the air by the wings.

These sculptural forms are created, not by exotic creatures nor by grand design, but by common insects, which are generally regarded as pests. In a society that considers its own superiority over other life forms to be God-given, it is enlightening to realize that neither a creature's scale nor its standing in our esteem has any influence on the magnificence of evolutionary development illustrated here.

Paul Mutimear

Blurbs:

"I love these photographs. So full of grace and beauty, so brimming with quiet technique. It is hard to believe at first, that these photographs capture the simple and seemingly ordinary act of moths in flight, but Paul Mutimear has found something rich and complex in that simplicity and something extraordinary in the ordinary. He has taken a thing we barely notice and turned it into art."
Joe Nocera
New York Times Op-Ed Columnist

"Dauguerre must have felt that his first shadowy images were quite moth-like in their metallic evanescent beauty. Later, Eadweard Muybridge applied photography to unravel the secrets of how natural creatures move. Paul Mutimear knits these traditions together in a thoroughly modern way, as his moths flicker into his photographs with enchanting results."
Victor Schrager
Photographer

 

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