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Since the early 1980s, artist Hubert Duprat has been utilizing insects to construct some of his "sculptures." By removing caddis fly larvae from their natural habitat and providing them with precious materials,
Kant's distinction between works of art and those of nature leaves us in a quandary. The production of the artifact within nature herself poses a problem---even more so when an aesthetic aspect is involved. Whether the insect is a craftsperson or whether, more generally, nature is a creator of forms, the consideration, within nature, of an aesthetic dimension is the stumbling block of science.
One of the answers of contemporary biology to this problem involves the notion of teleonomy put forward by Jacques Monod:
All artefacts are the product of a living being, which thus, and in a particularly evident way, expresses one of the basic properties which characterize all living beings without exception---the property of being objects endowed with a project which they at once represent in their structures and accomplish by their performance (such as, for example, the creation of artifacts).
Monod,moreover, acknowledges that the teleonomic character of living beings is in contradiction with the objectivity of nature, and that this epistemological contradiction is the core problem of biology.
For current biology, the concept of teleonomy would replace both erstwhile finalism and Kantian teleological judgment. According to Henri Atlan,
Events and the future forms towards which the organism seems to head are in fact contained at the outset, in a coded way, in the nucleotide sequences of the DNAs of the genome.
Your activity as an artist, upsetting the ordinary ethology of the insect, seems to me to be the same thing as introducing a noise, complicating itsUmwelt and producing a response. In your diversion of the caddis worm's behavior, in your artistic manipulation, the effect is twofold. From a biological viewpoint, a random event triggers self-organization. From a human viewpoint, the experimenter's intent produces this effect. These two types of final cause-effects (time inversion) are combined in the in vitro experiment.
Is the caddis worm's precious case the work of the insect or the work of the artist? This is not the right question. The contradiction can be resolved by the differing viewpoints. According to the first view, the caddis worm owes nothing to the artist (who is simply the author of one noise among the thousands of other noises in its environment). According to the second view, the caddis worm is merely the executor of the artist's project. The artistic statement plays on the confusion of the two levels by overlaying the two perspectives. The aesthetic result (at once natural and artistic) turns the caddis worm's case---which is more than an assisted ready-made or a "diversion"---into a doubly exposed object, like a double exposure: a scientific-cum-artistic palimpsest.