Nominated 2012 Best Monographic Museum Show, Nationally
by the International Association of Art Critics

Awarded 2012 Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Fellowship-New Genres

Firefly Jar FF Book Cloud
Firefly Trees Firefly 2.0 Firefly Book Firefly Cloud Video Photographs Overview of the Firefly Project


FF PaintingWith Firefly Projects I continue my interest in creating biomemetic works that integrate data sonification and visualization.  The rhythmic pattern of the firefly calls is significant component of the Firefly Tree. This pattern is featured by the data sonification of the Firefly Chorus and the data visualization controlling the LEDs blinking rate. This dual reference underscores the biomimetic nature of the work both visually and acoustically and provides an original and imaginative way of simultaneously injecting both form and content.  “Where have all of the fireflies gone?” is a commonly heard despair.   The loss of fireflies in our communities is primarily based on the increased light pollution from urban structures. Therefore fireflies are a succinct metaphor for the fragility of our ecosystem.  

The firefly or lightning bug is an insect that has fascinated people for probably as long as humans have known of them. We have known that for centuries people in the West Indies put them in between their toes to help them also find their way at night. More recently their flashing green and blue lights have inspired an entire branch of science, protein bioluminescence. But when seen in the first warm summer night, they seem simply magical. They light up memories of childhood when we collected them in jars for temporary nightlights and hold us in awe when whole forests and thickets light up in shifting rhythmic patterns of painted light as they search for a mate. Today people mourn their loss making memories of fireflies more precious as the illumination of the cities and towns drown out their mating light show.

This work has been shown in the solo exhibition Firefly Projects at the Newport Art Museum, Newport, RI.

The Firefly Tree, 2011 a 7.5 foot tall piece fabricated with repurposed architectural forms, recycled power cables, wooden dowels, speakers and blue LEDs is a biomimetic work based on firefly light signaling. A microprocessor connected to a network of blue LEDs has been programmed to mimic the mating call of a North American firefly. The acoustic component of the piece is a sonic translation of the rhythm of their calling pattern.

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Firefly 2.0, 2010 is an artbot informed by DIY aesthetics that dictates the usage of common electronic waste. The piece which is made out of recycled materials skitters unpredictably while flashing a large blue led. In a whimsical manner it harkens back to wonderful summertime childhood experiences collecting bugs.

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Firefly 2.0 Installation
White Box, New York, NY

Firefly Book
Blinking LEDs illuminate the spine of the book and a solar panel attached to the back charges its battery during the day.
10 3/8" h x 7 1/2" w x 3" d

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The Firefly Cloud, 2010 is a cluster of LEDs programmed to blink at the rate of the Photinus ignitus. Suspended from a weather balloon they were escorted around the neighborhood at night. As the evening was slightly windy the Firefly Cloud created beautiful light drawings. What you see below is a selection of documentation photographs of the Firefly Cloud as it was walked through out the neighborhood.

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Image sizes: 16 x 20"


China Blue's "Firefly Projects" is a continuation of her current body of work "The Seventh Kingdom". This is a selection of active, interactive and reactive works based on the emergence of new biological forms from the wastes of older ones. As human-created waste from manufacturing and obsolescent technology spreads through more environments and ecosystems other living things adapt to it or, more often, disappear. But as the wastes become more complex, including structural elements, electronic components and power sources a potential exists for new biogenic forms will arise in a new taxonomic class that scavenges and builds on the waste of its predecessors.

The name "Seventh Kingdom" is derived from classical biological taxonomy: the currently recognized taxonomic kingdoms include Animals, Plants, Fungi, Protists, Archaeons and Bacteria. The Seventh Kingdom incorporates detritus ranging from structural elements such as discarded dryer vent hose, plumbing pipes, guitar strings, and anti-static bags to potentially reactive and dynamic elements such as speakers, electronic components and recycled power supplies. The Seventh Kingdom weaves together these elements into post-biological creations that both act and react to their environment.