Hermit crabs carry their homes on their back in the form of an empty seashell that they scoop up and use both as shelter and as protection from predators. Due to the human tendency to collect the colorful objects along sandy shores, the hermit crabs don't have a lot of shell options and, as a result, they are becoming more and more homeless. In 2010, and with concern for the little creatures, Japanese artist Aki Inomata developed this project entitled Why Not Hand Over a “Shelter” to Hermit Crabs?
In each piece, the artist created a unique shelter for a homeless hermit crab. Using 3D modeling, Inomata designed a tiny acrylic cityscape to imitate the architecture of various countries. Through the work, she conceptually blends different worlds and cultures into one lively piece. She believes that, though the hermit crab's body stays the same, the changing shell is a metaphor for notions of ‘self.' Ultimately, viewers are invited to explore concepts of identity and to think about how identity can be defined based on appearances. During an interview Inomata said, “I connected my study of the hermit's transformation to the self-adaptation of humans, whether it be in acquiring a new nationality, immigrating, or relocating.”
To see one of the hermit crabs adopting a new shell design, check out the video below.