The video installation: HOST responds to my artist residency at the ‘bee house’, Queensland Brain Institute; where I have had the unique opportunity to find out first-hand just how it feels to enter an environment filled with bees and become a part of their world. My first surprise at the ‘bee house’ was that, for everyday experiments, protective clothing is not worn! At the beginning this made me feel vulnerable but before long I appreciated being without a barrier between myself and the bees. The connotations of this proximity became central to my artwork rationale as it developed.
Research scientists: Carla Evangelista and Peter Kraft trained the bees to come and feed on honey smeared over the palm of my hand. After initially circling around me and then flying away, the bees began to land on my hand and feed - one at a time at first - but then in twos and threes. It was fascinating to watch them so closely and to feel the delicate vibrations of their wings as they hovered over my hands.
The slow motion digital video footage of the bees feeding from my hands formed the source material for the video: HOST. It revealed not only the bee’s flying and navigational skills but also rare moments of nuanced intimacy between human being and bee. The menace of their sting was always present but, when seen in such great detail, the bees appeared unexpectedly vulnerable in what was essentially a perilous and poignant contiguity for both artist and bee within our fragile ecosystem.
“Host” is a layered exploration of distance and juxtaposition, of separation and proximity. Created in response to observations made in a ‘bee house’ during a residency at the Queensland Brain Institute, it reflects the artist’s developing rapport with the bees. Humans do not wear protective clothing in the ‘bee house’ but, in this environment, initial vulnerability gave way to a sense of close engagement when the bees were trained to land on the palm of the artist’s hand and feed there. Captured in detailed slow-motion image data this transitory allegiance between artist and bee is reinterpreted in the artwork: ‘Host’.