The concept of “anthill art” may evoke some bizarre imagery, but it’s a rather unique and remarkable form of art. What is anthill art? The procedure is rather simple. The artist pours molten aluminum on top of an anthill (or directly into the opening) where it penetrates the surface and makes its way through each and every tunnel and crevice in the colony. Eventually, the aluminum begins to cool and harden, forming a “cast.” The cast is then washed off and put on display and can be viewed on the official Anthill Art website.
The anonymous artist behind it all began his journey just a couple of years ago. He uploaded his first video, the casting of a fire ant colony, on Nov. 22, 2013. Since then, the three-minute clip has been viewed more than 63 million times. Clearly the Internet was fascinated.
You might be asking yourself — isn’t this a terrible thing to do to ants? On the one hand, yes, exterminating a colony of ants using piping hot metal can be considered an inhumane thing to do. However, you should note that the artist will cast only the colonies of invasive species, as he made clear in the YouTube description of his first video.
Most of the artist’s work is casts of fire ant colonies, which according to the HungryPests, pose a threat to the environment. Not only are their bites painful and potentially fatal, fire ants can also ruin crops and damage agricultural equipment. So rather than exterminating the ants with pesticides, this artist uses an unorthodox method that yields some beautiful structures.
Not everyone has an appreciation for how these beautiful structures are created, though. A quick glance at the comments on YouTube will show a distaste for the nature of anthill art. Many viewers have voiced their displeasure about the potential harm inflicted on the ants. Again, let me re-emphasize that the artist only seeks out invasive species — although, admittedly, this doesn’t change the amount of pain that the ants may or may not experience. However, some viewers have speculated that because the aluminum is so scalding hot, the resulting death would be instantaneous.
One thing that everyone seems to agree on is that the casts look incredible. On his website the artist explains how after his first video exploded onto the scene, he was bombarded with an influx of requests to purchase casts. Prior to the video going viral, he sold the casts on eBay. Now, a waiting list exists for the many people who are looking to get their hands on one.
Below, you can watch the video that started the anthill art craze.