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Intermission: Unnatural Swarms

In Thomas Jackson's "Emergent Behaviors" photo series, flying cheese balls and hovering plastic cups replace nature's swarming forces.

In Thomas Jackson's "Emergent Behaviors" photo series, flying cheese balls and hovering plastic cups replace nature's swarming forces. The Brooklyn-based Jackson, who shot his ongoing series in New York City and upstate New York, was inspired by "self-organizing emergent systems in nature," like termite mounds, locusts, and birds.

Jackson has always been intrigued by the ability of swarms to be both beautiful and scary at once. "The images attempt to tap fear and fascination that those phenomena tend to evoke, while creating an uneasy interplay between the natural and the manufactured and the real and the imaginary," he writes. "At the same time, each image is an experiment in juxtaposition. By constructing the pieces from unexpected materials and placing them in environments where they seem least to belong, I aim to tweak the margins of our visual vocabulary, and to invite fresh interpretations of everyday things."


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