How to Touch a Dragonfly

#More-than-human perception #Sensorial expansion #Coexistence #Co-evolution #Insects #Biodiversity #ClimateCrisis

How to Touch a Dragonfly is a large-scale installation work. Its 4m dome is a deconstructed low-resolution screen made of over two thousand hexagonal hanji pixels, which creates an immersive visual and sonic environment in which the visitor encounters dragonflies. The dome is currently in development.

Photo: R. Glowinski

Dragonflies are fascinating and ancient insects. The ancestors of today’s dragonflies emerged in the Triassic period and some had wingspans nearly a meter across. Today’s dragonflies are able to see more of the visible light spectrum than humans. They are sensitive to temperature and environmental changes, and so their movements have been used by humans as bioindicators to track the effect of climate change and pollution in ecosystems. Symbolic of renewal but also of retribution, these insects are beautiful and terrible carnivores with cultural and aesthetic resonance across time and around the globe.

The environment is now unequivocally and ubiquitously affected by human action. Whether the effects of consumption of fossil fuels, mining and extraction or pollution, human activities are leaving legacies on planet Earth that will persist beyond any individual’s lifespan. No human alive has known a planet
without plastic, nor a climate without anthropogenic change. We evolve in this environment, acting upon it as it acts upon us. This is true also for other species. In an effort to move beyond merely understanding the effect of humans on the environment and other species, my work over the past three years has focussed on acceptance and repair, embracing the new aesthetics and realities that have emerged from the drastic changes human activities have wrecked on the planet and ecosystems within it. In How to Touch a Dragonfly, dragonflies exemplify coexistence with the ecosystem in the time of the climate and biodiversity crises, exploring the reality of dragonflies on the Korean peninsula and beyond, proposing an approach to ecological and landuse stewardship that allows dragonflies and other insects to flourish alongside humans.

How to Touch a Dragonfly (2023)
Artist: Kat Austen
Architect: Robin Andersson (RTA Studio)
Digital Artist: Daniel Hengst
Creative Technologist: Justus Erhas
Production Manager: Olive Okjoh Han
Production Assistance: Hyeonhwa Lee
Additional Filming: Sangwon Lee
Hanji Funding: Jeonju Millenium Hanji Museum (전주천년한지관)
Supported by: ZER01NE Creator’s Programme (Hyundai Motor Group)