You could almost imagine it as a Saturday-morning kid’s cartoon, or a bored schoolboy sketch on the back of a notebook. But in exoskeleton taxidermy form, “Insect Army” will make your guts churn. It’s a collection of insects (and one bird) that have been retrofitted with guns, missiles, and all sorts of other sci-fi-era biomechanical upgrades.
The work is by Job van der Molen, who has scrapped model airplanes, ships, and even an inkjet printer to source parts for his six-legged cyborgs. And before you write it off as a goofy novelty, know that van der Molen has a strong contemporary drive to his work. Researchers have already successfully controlled cockroaches with miniature radio receiver backpacks, driving them as one might steer an R/C car. We haven’t added missiles to dragonflies yet, but the idea is less crazy than it sounds.
“To many people, my work combining nature and technology is seen as absurd or out of this world,” van der Molen tells Co.Design. “I’m making what’s already ‘normal’ to be seen and raise questions in the viewer.”
While his militarized insects certainly don’t seem in favor of such research, van der Molen’s work isn’t protest art with a specific agenda. Rather, he’s holding a mirror up to the state of the biomechanical world today while maintaining a playful tone. That is, if you can consider meticulously gluing, militarizing, and photographing insect carcasses an amusing activity.