Electric Butterflies is an installation constructed by an American artist who uses the pseudonym Koubou Deanna while doing a residency at Shiro Oni Studios in the town of Onishi in Gunma, Japan.
Koubou Deanna has been working primarily in textiles while in Japan since she cannot use the torches and other equipment needed to work in metal while living in rental housing. Take advantage of what you got, right? She can crochet just about anything from what I have seen.
For Electric Butterflies, she started with a broken computer and began to wonder what happened to the computer when disposed and what happened to all of the bits and bytes of our lives that have been stored there or as she says, “exploring the demise [and] disposal of the electronic personality…What happens when our computer dies? What happens to the electronic personality upon our death?”
The electric butterflies hand-crocheted with neon yarn carry away the bits and bytes of the computer’s electronic personality in both a figurative and literal way. Some of the butterflies morphed into abstract shapes to better support the weight of the larger frames. She took a very cute idea and made a surprisingly powerful image.
The circular frame that she found at a recycle shop anchored the piece and created an environment that viewers could insert their own imagery into. Was it a spider’s web? Was it for a web crawler or a web spider on a network or on the Internet?
Even this spiral frame was crocheted! All of it was covered in black yarn with bits of yellow neon, which gave it a heavier presence than the luminescent butterflies. It seemed to have a heavier gravitational field, so the butterflies had to try harder to fly away. Tubes of light also rimmed the spiral, so it could be seen at night.
This was a great piece for an art project in a small town where the primary audience will of course be the local residents who support the artists and make them feel at home. This gentleman actually has the Chinese character for butterfly on his happi coat, which is his uniform for the local festival on July 12 and 13.
She used techniques that were familiar with imagery that could be understand although the combination was something that only those with artistic minds would come up with. The average person finds it hard to enter a studio with an artist in residence, because he or she does not want to intrude and feels like they will not understand whatever it is that is being made. Even young girls and boys enjoyed this installation. In their festival outfits, they were as colourful and as beautiful as the butterflies! Who knows? Perhaps those young children will fly away from their rural town and become famous artists.
Other people may have been inspired that weekend to dress up as insects. Maybe the future generation will be ladybugs and destroy nasty, aphid-like invaders to protect the environment.
If you looked carefully, you might have seen flowers decorating poles on the street as well as Gabia’s crocheted piece outside the studio.