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May. 15, 2012

Welcome Our New Insect Overlords

by Annette Heist

Click to enlarge images
Expand slideshow to full screen to see uncropped photos.
When insects take over the world (and it will happen), I imagine they'll look a lot like artist Tom Hardwidge's arthrobots: arthropod-robot hybrids, which he describes as "steampunk" sculptures.
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Eight types of arthropods are represented in Hardwidge's handmade collection, including bees, beetles, and grasshoppers. (Spiders are there too; someone has to keep the insects in line.)
 
Hardwidge makes his sculptures at his dining room table (see below), using deactivated ammunition, watch gears, pen tips, and other bits of assorted metal. Of the designs, he says "developing the sculptures is always a balance between anatomical accuracy and the materials that I can find. Anatomical accuracy usually loses this battle."
 
{"input":{"width":"200","photo":"hymenoptera","row":"4118","table":"DOCUMENT"}}
Hardwidge gives his creations Latin-ish names based on conventional nomenclature and the identifying features he's fashioned them with. (They're all phylum Arthrobot. The bee on the left with the pen tip stinger is Hymechenoptera scriptor.)
 
Once he has a design in mind, Hardwidge says it takes about 2-3 hours to put together a sculpture. For more complex commissions, the design itself can take a day or more. You can begin amassing your own arthrobot army (or just see more of Hardwidge's creations) here.
 
About Annette Heist

Annette Heist is a former senior producer for Science Friday.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

Science Friday® is produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Science Friday® and SciFri® are registered service marks of Science Friday, Inc. Site design by Pentagram; engineering by Mediapolis.

 

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