Thursday, November 8, 2007

Trilobites in Art and Design

Trilobites, though long extinct, have continued to inspire artists and designers. Appreciation of their beautiful form has sparked many imaginations, from painters and sculptors, to architects and manufacturers. Even the home appliance industry has offered us a robotic vacuum cleaner that sports both name and design inspired by the trilobite.

What is it about these vanished arthropods that still captivates us, inspiring in some the desire to replicate aspects of their physicality? Part of the answer may lie in humans' innate appreciation of symmetry, and also repetition, two qualities that trilobites almost always possess. But the explanation is likely to be more complex, and deeply varied among individuals. For now we will dispense with explanations and simply examine a smorgasboard of trilobite inspired visions.

One of the most insane trilobite-inspired creations has to be I-Wei Huang's steam powered trilobite tank. He describes this as a last minute retooling of his damaged steam spider. It takes mad genius to turn the tragedy of a broken robot into a trilobite triumph. His trilobite tank won best in show at the 2006 Robogames.


This amazing architectural adornment was photographed in New York by gargoyle photographer Mark Williams. It and another were spotted during his photographic sojourns. Its creator remains unknown, but that creator's fascination with trilobites is still very tangible.

Even toy designers, in this case from Japan, have been compelled to create items that appeal to our natural curiosity about these strange and inspiringly beautiful creatures. The most amazing thing is the way we continue to find new ways to express our fascination with trilobites. This rubber stamp created by an artist in Australia is simply exquisite.


This computer model was created by Karla Z to simulate the presumed motion of trilobite ambulation. The diversity of the expression of our curiosity about trilobites continues to evolve and grow.
li'l trilobite

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