Ashton Phillips


On-site Event June 4th

Becoming Insect
Emerging out of a pandemic-era investigation into the capacity of mealworms and other metamorphosing insects to consume, metabolize, and transform petroleum-based plastics into energy for their bodies and biodegradable hydrocarbons, “becoming insect” will combine an installation of partially consumed styrofoam and found offertory materials, like wildflowers, carrots, and fruit, with a “worms-eye” and “worms-ear” projection of visual and auditory information created by the colony’s composting activity. Multiple microphones will be placed in the body of the installation to record the complex sounds of the colony, as they consume and transform the styrofoam and other materials. This sound will be amplified using a portable amplification system. Additional tracks will be recorded and mixed with the live worm sounds, including sounds associated with the source of styrofoam, like the sounds of a human unwrapping an Amazon package containing styrofoam, a human eating takeout food served in a styrofoam container, a soda fountain filling up a styrofoam cup, and a container ship’s low wail as it comes into port carrying goods protected with styrofoam. A microscopic camera will also be embedded into the colony, with a live feed projected onto an adjacent wall (if available), inviting viewers into a worm’s-eye view of this posthuman ecology of metamorphosis and repair.

Return to Artists 2022 page

Ashton S. Phillips is an interdisciplinary artist, based in Los Angeles, working directly with the earth, water, pollution, taboo, and repair as primary materials. He is interested in the wisdom hidden within the material environment, including our physical bodies, and in the promise of queer ecological praxis, including interspecies collaboration, embodied “play,” and speculative (un)making, as pathways for building meaning, resiliency, and new forms of knowing/feeling/being in the precarious present. His work has been exhibited across the United States, and he is an MFA candidate at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Public art commissions and participatory performances include Feast and Famine, a 2022 collaborative performance and sound installation at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in Culver City, CA; Reflections, a 2020-21 participatory sound art installation in Glendale Central Park; breaking ground, a public performance and temporary land art installation among the landslide ruins of Sunken City on the coast of San Pedro, CA; and Helios Rising, a 170 x 7′ mural responding to the path of the sun in Albuquerque, NM.

Artist Location: Long Beach, CA

Social Media:

Posted in Artists 2022.