In these portraits the viewer is invited by the mantis’ illusory gaze to anthropomorphize them. This gaze, along with their distinct head and shoulders, are akin enough to our own that an uncomfortable tension is created between the mantis and viewer. Superficially the tension is with their inhumanness — the way they feed, their distinct lack of consciousness, and their sexual cannibalism — but more subtly the tension is from their incidental nascent mimicry of our form. As a species we mimic one another in society while struggling to remain an individual; homogeny is valued even at the threat of losing ways to distinct individuality. The mantis by being alien yet relatable erodes the viewer’s sense of self. As the number of acceptable others are eroded and ways differentiate ourselves become more limited we are threatened with losing ourselves to homogeny, and viewing the remaining the other balefully.
These three mantis are in the process of dying. The first is a newly hatched ghost mantis which couldn't free itself of its birthing skin. As a result the mantis' exoskeleton hardened into a form which made it impossible for it to survive without outside care. It died a week a later. The second is a decapitated cone-head mantis. Smaller than an unusually aggressive female (this species usually can be kept communally) he was over powered and then partially eaten. His body continues to move as the part of the nervous system that controls the body is separate from the head. The final mantis is dying from what mantis keepers call black death. Lethargy has set in followed by diarrhea and vomiting of a black liquid; once these symptoms have appeared death is inescapable. Near the end, having lost all coordination, she fell from her perch and rests on her side.
These videos are installed on three walls of a square or rectangular room with the remaining side reserved for seating. An ambient wind as present with a low volume. The videos loops un-synced fading in and out each in a one minute duration.