It started in the summer of 2012 with a few butterflies, a handful of magnets and a camera. By sewing a magnet to the stiffened cyanotype fabric creatures, they gained autonomy. They now had the power to transform public spaces.
I swarmed the first 200 butterflies on utility boxes, fences and other metal objects around my hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana. The installations were ephemeral, lasting only 10-20 minutes.
When I moved to New York City in the summer of 2013 I decided to break away from still images and try my hand at stop motion animation.
As the swarm developed, I wanted to open up the project to new audiences
It was a late jet lagged night in the spring of 2014 while on vacation in Istanbul turkey when I had the idea.
The realization was simple. People already lived all over the world- and for the butterflies to travel i merely needed to find interested collaborators and send them the butterflies.
So that’s what I did. I made a website, gathered participants and organized regional routes for a total of 6,000 butterflies to travel. The people I connected with came from 45 different countries including Antarctica. Once the first person installed the butterflies and photographed them around their town they would send them along to the next person and so on.
The book I designed from the thousands of resultant images has 260 pages and features installations from 120 different photographers. The participants include teachers, students, artists, scientists, bakers, translators and more.
This book is an artifact of something bigger than the photographs of butterflies it contains. It shows that positive community building and collaboration can be facilitated by the internet. I trusted my art and gave my time to hundreds of strangers and what I received in return was truly magic.