Project 2: the Cicada v.2


The Cicada life cycle is one of constant regeneration. In Kansas, every spring they reappear. Small dime-sized holes appear in the surface of the soil near large tree roots. The males begin to sing, an orchestral production comprised of low frequencies pervades until night has come. These insects are hard to ignore when they are in search for love, but when fall comes they have all but disappeared forever.

My fascination with the Cicada began when I would visit Korea in the summertime.I asked my mother why it was that the trees would scream louder on the hottest days, and she revealed the secret of the hundreds of cicadas within. She called them Maemi, and told me they were angry because they became too hot. In Korea, the names for creatures are usually phonetic matches to the sound they make. Maemi maemi maaaaemi.

When I moved a lot as a child, I learn to find similarities in my environment and learn more about those topics. For me, the Cicada is symbolic; the unforgettable sound of summer across the world. In many asian cultures, the alien-looking creatures are imbibed with themes of rebirth, immortality, and spiritual realization.

Through my research of the Cicada, I became interested with the significance of the human-insect relationship. Why is it that these creatures are objects of fear? Insects are integral to the life cycles of the earth. They remove decay so that new life may form, a thankless job. Yet, it is considered negative to feel “as insignificant as an ant”. I then began to focus on the cognitive dissonance present in the relationship between our antennaed counterparts, and us.

What began as a project to simulate an interaction between one person and an electronic cicada, became a symbol of the human-insect relationship as a whole. Through gentle touch the Cicada can communicate the interests of all insects. My interactive art installation depicts scenes of people and insects in natural and tranquil states. The viewer is invited to interact with a plush cicada in a sensitive manner. If the viewer decides to become too forceful with the Cicada, it will sound a distress call and destruction will ensue. The happy images of people and insects will become warped, and the Cicada’s song will become chaotic. Once a peak threshold value is triggered, the Cicada will die.

After a moment of silence, the song of the Cicada will return.. The death of the Cicada is a chance to learn, a chance for the human-insect relationship to be reborn.


Video Screenshots:

Still from unmanipulated video
Still influenced by sensor
Still influenced by sensor
Still influenced by sensor
Still influenced by sensor






Cicada life cycle info

Cicada wing movement

Blender tutorial to make a bee

Human insect relationship

Flex sensor tutorial

Bug horror films

Jennifer angus

HD stock footage 

Tangible and embedded interaction

Wifi stuff

Tangible interface

Conductive thread

Flora pinout diagram


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