As far as most people are concerned, there is nothing beneficial about termites. Very few people will claim to have an appreciation for termites. Of course, termites do perform essential ecological duties that help to maintain the proper balance of the ecosystem. As important as termites are for sustaining life on this planet, many people still dismiss them as nothing more than structural pests. The benefits of termite activity are not directly experienced by humans, but, as it happens, termites can make people rich.
Several years ago, researchers learned that subterranean termites can detect certain precious metals located far below the earth’s surface, notably gold. Therefore, by following termite movements in the wild, prospectors can locate valuable metals. Subterranean termites are natural excavators. Sometimes, small particles of gold can be found on subterranean termites once they reach the soil’s surface. After locating these termites, prospectors can establish large-scale mining operations in an effort to extract as much gold as possible from an area of land. Surprisingly, or, perhaps, not surprisingly, most people do not seem to be aware of this miraculous termite-ability except for the owners of large mining companies. Also, gold-digging termites have only been spotted in the country of Australia. However, one visual artist is currently showcasing an exhibition concerning the mining capabilities that termites offer to humanity.
Nicholas Mangan is the Australian visual artist who is staging the exhibition called “Termite Economies.” Mangan’s exhibition is concerned mainly with the interaction between nature and culture. More specifically, Mangan is concerned with how humans make use of nature in order to meet capitalist ambitions. Although Mangan’s exhibition is more concerned with scientific information than the visual arts, he is using a variety of visual mediums in order to express how termites can lead humans to gold deposits. For example, Mangan is showing video footage of subterranean termites in the Australian regions where the insects had previously discovered gold. Also, Mangan is using sculptures in order to illustrate how industriastialists can create unique types of mining equipment that mimic the manner in which termites excavate soil. Mangan hopes that termites can be utilized to locate large gold deposits that would otherwise remain invisible to humans.
Do you believe that termites will eventually become a necessity to all future mining operations?