Lepidopteral explores the subtlety and gentleness of elements in nature, without direct reference to, or use of, biological materials. The work was inspired by an experience at Lago di Fiastra in Le Marché region of Italy, where butterflies had clustered all around the lake, looking at first glance like small crocus-like flowers, but were engaged in reproduction or egg-laying. As a congregation they sat gently raising and lowering their wings, sometimes synchronised, sometimes completely still. Lepidopteral takes a data feed monitoring fluctuations in ambient light levels in Berlin. The fluctuations send current through muscle wire to control the silent flap of small nylon wings on an array of objects. The work comes to life gently and gradually as the data changes.
2013 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, Tate Modern, London, UK
Thanks to Andrew McPherson, Sophie MacDonald, Matt Jarvis