For years scientists have been warning of a looming ‘insect apocalypse’ likely to dramatically alter life on Earth. Insects perform vital roles, from clean-up operations to pollenating plants, as well as being a food source for other creatures. But more than 40% of all insect species are declining, with threats including climate change, habitat loss, invasive species and pollution.
It’s a crisis British photographer Levon Biss is working to highlight with his latest project and book Extinct and Endangered, which features ‘extreme macro’ photos of specimens from the collection of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
“Insects are important,” Biss says. “These aren’t just pretty pictures. There’s a scientific element, a natural history element, a conservation element and an artistic element. The fundamental point of these images is to show people what they haven’t seen before. As much as I want people to enjoy them as entertainment, they equally should be education. Unless you see insects in high magnification, you can’t appreciate them.”
Biss has photographed politicians, film-makers and athletes, from Serena Williams to Danny Boyle. But showing people the beauty of bug life, and encouraging them to appreciate and help protect insects, is what he now finds more fulfilling.
“My work is trying to mix art with science, and education with entertainment,” he explains. “I want my images to work harder and to have a purpose.”
Levon Biss is interviewed in the September/October issue of the RPS Journal.
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