Exoskeleton, chitin, mollusc, arthropod, echinoderm: words learned in middle school biology class. Words which sound like what they describe: animal armor. And what about humans?

Skin, our largest organ, is sensitive. It can be burnt, pierced, reddened, wounded, scraped, etc. We are touched by emotions yet our skin hardens through experience, we become thick skinned. Sensitive people build a protective carapace around themselves to keep them from harm, literally and physically. We all know about protective shells from personal experience.

Symbiosis, two different expressions and aesthetics, joining two materials that melt together into one. Dominique is the technical daredevil manipulating the molten materials we use. Carol is amazed by his dexterity and defies him to make some crazy idea. He works the melted media, the extreme heat comforting to him, reminding him of when he learned glass making as a child. Carol makes sketches, dummy mock-ups, is in the studio during the making process giving a certain aesthetic sensibility, painstakingly planning the creative process for a minimum of unknowns. Dominique is where he likes to be, on the frontline, instinctively dominating the media.

Part of the process is taking a cardboard model and translating it into glass and metal. It’s like our spoken dialogue, taking something in French or English and translating it into the other language, so it makes as much sense as it did in VO, letting nothing, neither word nor connotation, get lost along the way.

An exoskeleton announces the color, what to expect: a spider with a red spot means danger. A scorpion with pinchers and a venomous stinger. A bee looks so nice, it makes honey, but has a nasty dart on its hind quarters. Dragonflies so beautiful from a distance. Don’t get too close! Don’t touch!

In the animal world, skin or carapace says who you are in the general order of things. A shark’s armor of dermal denticles, it’s on the top of the food chain. A black widow, identified by its characteristic red spot, paralyzes and eats her prey and even her mate. Also a sexual cannibal, the praying mantis is an ambush predator. We can identify their blood thirsty habits as soon as we see them. It’s the exoskeleton, the armor, the protective coat that all of our creatures have around them. It is comforting because we know what to expect. If only human beings were the same.

Perhaps our beasts have human expressions because we put part of ourselves into every creature we make. Ourselves with a hard shiny colorful coat for protection. An external hard shell instead of a permeable sensitive skin.

© Dominique Campana & Carol Haas