Insects might be small, but they make up 80% of the world’s species. There are around 900 different kinds of bugs living that we know of, making them the most diverse group of organisms in the world. In celebration of creepy-crawlies, Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh sculpts incredibly detailed bamboo insects that look as though they could scurry or fly away.
Saitoh captures the diversity of insects through his incredible craft. Bamboo has a very strong fiber, but it can also be curved into all kinds of angles without breaking. These qualities make it the perfect material for crafting complex creepy-crawlies that boast a wide range of shapes and textures. From dragonflies and butterflies to beetles and spiders, Saitoh captures the character of each bug on a 1:1 scale.
Delicate antennae, thoraxes, and legs are meticulously sculpted from bamboo, revealing Saitoh’s patience and eye for detail. For insects that have wings, the artist first creates intricate bamboo skeleton-like frames, and then adds translucent craft paper over the top. The results look like real insect wings that shimmer in the light.
Although each bamboo insect looks incredibly lifelike, Saitoh stresses that he doesn’t aim to make exact copies of his tiny subjects. The artist tells My Modern Met, “Since we are not making specimens or replicas, we prioritize the impression, characteristics, and sensation of appearance rather than rigorously measuring the dimensions and creating proportions accurately.” Instead, Saitoh allows the human eye to fill in the gaps where details might be missing. He explains, “I feel that the reality of the work is created by thinning out the elements and leaving room for imagination.”
Check out Saitoh’s incredible bamboo insects below and find more from his collection on his website.