Crabs Close Up
29/11/20 (To start at the first post, click here)
Confession: I've got a bit of a crush. I can't stop thinking about a certain red-eyed, white-fanged creature with a crew cut: the Velvet Swimming Crab. I'm so mad about this little shellfish that I persuade a friendly fisherman to save me a couple.
Kevin has been fishing here for 34 years but Velvet Crabs have only become lucrative in recent years. In a good week he can catch 1 ton of Velvets. Also known as the Devil Crab because of their red eyes, these little fellas are shipped from Scotland to Spain where they are relished as a delicacy. Cooking them is not on my agenda, however.
I name them Gilbert & George, after the outlandish art duo who call themselves living sculptures. G&G look at me from my shower tray which I lined with seaweed to make them feel at home. For a good 15 minutes, they are still. Finally Gilbert moves. He steps backwards and sideways using his three pairs of legs to reverse into a corner. Maybe he's camera shy. He certainly looks suspicious. His mouth parts are working frantically, like the inside of a clock, and his eyes rotate as he looks around. Hard to work out if he's looking at me, his new quarters or is dazzled by the brightness. I turn off the light.
I wonder if George is dead. Then I see his antennae waver. He is bigger with barnacles on his legs and only one claw suggesting that he's older and a bit battle-scarred. It' s so easy to turn them into characters endowing them with histories and emotions but I just want to study their appearance. The shapes and patterns of the joints on their legs, their curving blue mottled claws and zigzag striped back paddles. Their shells have jagged edges and are carpeted in soft bristles - hence the name. This velvet furriness contrasts with their triangular transparent fangs and geometric mouth parts. What a complex and intricate creature this is and it fits into the palm of my hand.
There's very little action so after taking photos, making sketches and short film clips, I put them in a bag and take them back to the sea. The moon guides me along the stone jetty and I slide them gently into the waves. Not destined for a Barcelona restaurant this time; plenty of material for my Masters project though.
My tutor suggested I watch Isabella Rosseillin's Green Porno - Seduce Me films where she dresses up as a range of creatures from bedbugs to cuckoos and discusses their sex lives. Bizarre, funny yet a bit disturbing, I'm not sure what the point is but they are definitely different to David Attenborough! Think my tutor is hoping I'll dress up as a Velvet Crab for my final piece. Mmmm.
Eco-criticism is this week's Contemporary Art Practice theme. We read Timothy Morton's Dark Ecology. He explores the logical foundations of the ecological crisis, suffused with negativity of coexistence yet evolving into something playful, anarchic, and comedic. Worth watching him speak on YouTube - entertaining even if baffling: Dark Ecological Chocolate
The lecture by Prof Norman Shaw stretched from there to here and out there again. It touched on Turner/ Samuel Palmer, jumped to faeries/ standing stones then onto black metal music in Norway. Fascinating. Looking forward to my tutorial with him this week!