Please or Register to create posts and topics.

Trilobite Beetle Dance

Museum Link:

Source Link:

Date Minted:  September 20, 2020

Artist Description: Full Trilobite Beetle Dance. Shorter version of this artwork was showcased at the 'Whale Fall' exhibition curated by Most Dismal Swamp at Gossamer Fog, London.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

As odd as it is to say sans context, Trilobite Beetle Dance by Pirate Sheep is one of the most grounded pieces the artist has created. At least if we judge them by their MakersPlace page that is, which demonstrates that Pirate Sheep is usually a creator —mad scientist is more like it— of some of the strangest images I’ve seen to date, all of them 3D sculptures of the highest technical order, but displaying shapes —or organisms, animals, bodies, cosmic objects, bacterium, biological abstractions filled with confetti and neon and streamers— that one can hardly wrap their mind around. Sometimes grotesque, oftentimes bizarre, always completely engrossing, their artwork reveals that Pirate Sheep is clearly an artist obsessed with realism, or, more specifically, making real the weirdest machinations of their mind. Trilobite Beetle Dance is, by comparison, somewhat identifiable? It’s energetic and boisterous and playful and idiosyncratic, but it doesn’t verge into abstraction like so many of Pirate Sheep’s other pieces, nor does it seem intended to make us gag, furrow our brows, or curl our lips in a sickly sneer. It is in practice exactly what its name implies. A hypnotic piece, nevertheless, this is. A fascinating study of movement as well. But more than anything, it’s a piece that bursts with joy and life and humor, an artist of extreme talent giving themselves a long runway upon which to be entertaining, be jovial, and be light. It’s a bit of an oddity in Pirate Sheep’s oeuvre for just that reason. Or so it appears at first. It might, however, be a quintessential codex to the rest of the artist’s work. Perhaps, owing to Trilobite Beetle Dance, we need to see the artist as an entertainer as well. It’s just a shame this piece doesn’t have any audio. I’d love to know what it is the trilobites are dancing to. 

By the time the 11-second video piece has ended, we see altogether the 18 trilobites that will be featured in the piece in total, their tails wagging in perfect harmony, their bodies swinging side to side like pieces of a paisley tie come to zombified life. Trilobites are extinct marine arthropods, aquatic beetles that prowled the ocean floor 500 million years ago. Not only does Pirate Sheep show them devoid of their usually-depicted fossilized form, but gives them an odd cultural structure, or at least such is the implication. Why do the trilobites dance? As a mating ritual? In celebration? Perhaps this is how they excrete solid waste. I bet it wasn’t Pirate Sheep’s intention to create an extant social hierarchy amongst extinct animals, but here’s warning everyone that you can’t make 18 fossils go all Dithyramb on us without asserting some kind of sociocultural implication. Sans that implication, Trilobite Beetle Dance allllllllmost verges into the abstract, and probably would do so if the name of the piece didn’t identify its subjects. 

As the piece begins, we only see five (and the tail of a sixth) of the little buggers, their dark blue shells lit up with bright orange flagella, and with equally bright orange markings all down their backs. They sway back and forth in time, arranged in a pentecostal star formation, their bodies swiveling left, and swiveling right, becoming rigid; they shake all over, and begin the dance again. Throughout the 11-second video, we pull slowly outward (camera-wise), more and more, until further layers of these trilobites are revealed. 18 trilobites arranged in three exponentially larger rings, with tacit assertion being that more and more of the beasts are taking part in the dance just outside of the frame’s locus of focus. The effect is downright hypnotic, as the movements of each organism take place in perfect harmony. The effect of abstraction I mentioned earlier is a result of the number of imitative movements, and so the trilobites —also because we zoom-out, getting physically further away from them— seem less like animals and more like living shapes, their dance less a social activity than a kind of energetic subliminal message. The whole scene takes place upon what I suppose is a grey sea-floor. It’s less lovingly rendered, l however, than the carapaces of each trilobite, which display incredible attention to detail and individual reflecting of an off-screen light. 

When I said before that Trilobite Beetle Dance might help open up the artist’s oeuvre, I mean that, through this piece, the artist reveals themselves to us. Not that the artist creates heavy-handed or self-serious works otherwise, but even in the lightest of oeuvres subject-matter-wise, we can often sense a certain devoted-cum-stubborn adherence to working with a single form, using a single style, to achieve a sense of evolution. People concerned with their legacy or perception or that sort of thing. Pirate Sheep is clearly making art for their own sake, for a piece like Dance seems more like the kind of idea that would emerge from some marijuana-infused dorm-room hangout than an art studio proper. Thus, I think a lot of artists would shy away from such a thing. Perhaps because of Pirate Sheep’s innate and epic talent, they were confident enough to know they could give life to such a far-out invention. Perhaps because of Pirate Sheep’s innate enthusiasm for artistry, they didn’t pay mind to the cloying interjections of anxious or self-scolding thoughts. And the work, all the works, are better for it! They’re better for having this kind of lightness in their ranks which display so much of the artist’s personality. I suppose, to an extent, you can come to know every artist through an examination of their works, but even if you knew nothing about Pirate Sheep, their style, or their oeuvre, an experience with Trilobite Beetle Dance is an introduction par excellence. Pirate Sheep very suddenly and very quickly feels like an old friend. 

You are not allowed to do this. Please login and connect your wallet to your account.