Artist Christopher Marley has meticulously arranged families, genera and species to create this scientific artwork.
Our world is awash in visual variety. You can see this demonstrated by how an animal’s appearance can be totally different even by genus. For example, Leaf beetles (genus Chrysochus) can be found over a large range and have a rainbow of shimmering hues.
The Chrysochus species can be found anywhere from Laos to Australia and “are virtually the same beetle, and it is the locality largely that determines their color,” says Christopher Marley, the artist from Oregon who created these mosaics. The exact color of the beetles’ can be affected by temperature, humidity, diet and adaptation to predators.
Marley says the visual complexity can leave him feeling overwhelmed. While messy at times, he is determined to organize beetles, butterflies, sea urchins and more into high-art mosaics. His subjects / materials are gathered from around the world or reclaimed from scientists and institutions, as well.
In his latest book, Biophilia, which is published by Abrams, phenomenal photographs of 200+ three-dimensional artworks are featured.
The first subject Marley experimented with was beetles. After gathering specimens of about the same size and species, he hid their legs to only show the same oval shape. This allowed him to focus on the vivid spectrum of color and textures within the group of insects. He arranges them like precious jewels on a pendant.
Even though he is motivated by aesthetics, it could be argued that his mosaics tell a scientific story. That is most abundantly clear in his works which include organisms which are related by come from different parts of the globe.
“My philosophy is to try and isolate one or two variables in a mosaic, so that the general populace is able to comprehend this amazing variety without it being a mess,” Marley says. “As much as I can isolate the variables, it makes it more approachable and comprehensible, and a cleaner presentation.”