The Annals of Bugs
Artist book, ink on Chinese xuan paper, silk cord
9.5 x 6.7 x 0.6”
The Annals of Bugs is a printed book written in a seemingly nonsensical language where each ‘word’ or ‘character’ is in fact the mark created by a leaf miner fly larva. For the last ten years, Zhu Yingchun has gathered almost ten thousand leaves from around his studio in Nanjing, China, and meticulously extracted each unique mark from its surface. Arranged together, these abstract marks have the quality of a calligraphic script that on the one hand is entirely natural and real, yet on the other appears to be a mysterious and sophisticated written language.
The book is printed on Chinese xuan paper with a blue cover and bound together with double silk cord, according to traditional practices, making reference to China’s extensive history of keeping historical records, printing and bookmaking. In doing so it suggests the book and its contents are indecipherable not because they are fabricated, but because they belong to a world or culture we have yet to fully comprehend, thus elevating the ubiquitous traces of nature and emphasising their innate beauty.
The word ‘book’ in Chinese, shu, also means ‘script or ‘to write’. The Annals of Bugs, which is written by the insects themselves and merely compiled by the artist, therefore embodies the philosophical metaphor: the world as a book that writes itself.