The following webs we would recommend:

                                           www.revoltagainstplenty.com

                                           www.principiadialectica.co.uk

                                           www.endangeredphoenix.com

 

The following are a selection of videos on butterflies we have produced over the last few years. Others related to the Dingy Skipper holocaust in former industrial districts of West and South Yorkshire should visit the video section of www.revoltagainstplenty.com

                                                                                                 Anybody desiring copies should email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Turbulent Weather Green Hairstreaks, Bradford 2006 from David Wise on Vimeo.

This film demonstrates how Green Hairstreaks survive in often atrocious Pennine weather conditions such as gales and heavy rains. (For more information see the pamphlets: "A Photographic Essay on Green Hairstreaks set in a wintry landscape in West Yorks 2002-3 and "The Green Hairstreak colonises the Bradford Metropolitan District, May 2001" elsewhere on this web). This film deals with storms and how the butterfly is able to cope - and thrive in often the bleakest circumstances - in the Pennine region. Tracking the Green Hairstreak  as it came into Bradford area from 1997 onwards we became conscious of how chamleon-like the butterfly is - in fact the most changeable of all butterflies - one moment very visible the next almost impossible to make out especially in the north of England, set against bilberry, its food plant of choice. We have yet to capture this movement on film demonstrating the potential for research that exists for research that exists for anyone armed with patience and a camcorder. (Blurb on the inside sleeve of the original DVD booklet)

 

This film documents the actual moment a singleton Brown Argus butterfly was discovered, followed shortly by a few more in and around Horbury and the approaches to Dewsbury in West Yorkshire. For good measure, the film also includes footage of the Brown Argus alongside The Cut in Castleford Castleford, West Yorks, and finally on Dinnington's former colliery spoil heap near Sheffield, South Yorks. Something of a technical experiment  the film includes sound tracks of Ken Colyer, Meade Lux Lewis, Vivaldi, Debussy's ""L'Apres midi d'un faune" finishing with Lewis's "Celeste Blues". It is the music we loved as teenagers. We agonised over introducing a musical accompaniment seeing we had attacked such cinematic devices but then decided it was OK because our awakening interest in butterflies, blues and jazz coincided as one interest collided with and influenced and influenced the other in a way we are now only really becoming aware of. There was also something defiant about this conjoined interest because in neither case back then were they encouraged by the school, that central agent of socialisation for children and young adults. Moreover, a 78 rpm vinyl record collection that fell into our hands from a former GI uncle in America was, we now realise, quite remarkable. For formal daring nothing we had heard up to that point could possibly equal Red Nelson's "Streamline Train" which stretched the voval chords and harmonic scale beyond what was then considered as singing. In Healey Mills Marshalling Yards we would dream we were in the Mississippi delta as a giant sun refracting the dust and grime of industry - becoming blood red in the process - would sink behind the rooftops while we picked dozens of elephant hawk caterpillars off the flowering purplish tops of the massed stems of rosebay willow herb....  (Blurb on the inside of the original DVD booklet)

 

Castleford Cut Brown Argus Colony 2006 from David Wise on Vimeo.

This is a very straight forward but long film cutting away all titles, transitions and voiceovers for the simple reason it hopefully speaks for itself. You could say it is Andy Warhol-ish because nothing really happens as you look at one butterfly then another of the same species, frame after frame, minute after minute.....but then something intervenes be it a heavy shower or another insect....Suddenly too, an insect expresses itself as a female and a thickened body arches downover sensitively probing the underside of a leaf of dove's foot cranesbill growing not far above the soil's surface as the butterfly looks for an apt and beckoning egg laying proposal. Eggs are laid. Ten days later they hatch and the camcorder focusses on one miniscule larvae as it begins to eat only the surface of semi toughened leaves shaped by a greenhouse-driven hottish September of the year 2006 approaching a bizarre autumnal climax. Suddenly the caterpillar looks huge in the cinematic footage, yet still so delicately transparent so stridently green and so hungry. And does the creature eat and eat! At one moment the caterpillar's backside determinedly flicks the potentially contaminated frass away into the distance well outside the camera frame, at another; it remains motionless, as if dead, waiting immanent first skin cast. Yet other larvae nearby merrily continue gorging oblivious of their day-in day-out motionless slightly older brother or sister couched there as if dead. Sure enough, the skin is translucently cast. Then suddenly - as the seasonal time kicks in, despite the heat - the larvae no longer visible on the cranesbill's gradually withering leaves have gone seeking a hideaway where hungry spiders may be fooled.... (Blurb on the inside of the original DVD cover)

 

West Yorks Brown Argus Larvae 2006 from David Wise on Vimeo.

 This film is in fact very related to the previous film except it concentrates more precisely on the egg and larvae of the Brown Argus.... Ten days later and eggs of all shapes and sizes hatch and one miniscule larvae is focussed upon as it begins to eat only the surface of semi toughened leaves shaped by a greenhouse-driven hottish September of 2006 approaching a bizarre autumnal climax. Suddenly, the caterpillar looks huge in the cinematic footage, yet still so transparent and so stridently green and so hungry.And does the creature eat and eat! At one moment the caterpillar's backside determinedly flicks the potentially contaminated frass away into the distance and well outside the camera frame, at another; it remains motionless, as if dead, waiting the immanent first skin cast. Yet other larvae nearby merrily continue gorging oblivious of their day-in day-out motionless, slightly older brother or sister couched there as if dead. Sure enough, the skin is translucently cast. Then suddenly - as the seasonal time clocks kicks in despite the heat - the larvae no longer visible on the cranesbill's gradually withering leaves have gone seeking a hideaway where hungry spiders may be fooled....   (DVD blurb from the original presentation in late 2006)

 

Reflections On Ringlet Variation in the Bradford Area 2004-5 from David Wise on Vimeo.

Ringlet variation is the theme of this film shot between 2003 and 2008 emphasising the amount of variations the butterfly has attained in the Bradford area ranging from the city's suburbs to outlying regions especially the gravel pits at Ben Rhydding on the river Wharfe near Ilkley.The argument put forward is that the southern Ringlet has met up with discreet local, or even undiscovered colonies very different in character and colour extolling very diverse wing markings. Post smoke-stack emissions together with global warming these sparse colonies - probably harking back to a pre-industrial era - have latterly blossomed in numbers as they overlap and integrate with their southern counterparts. The end of the film is made up of a series of blended, synchronised photographs of ab: lanceolata/caeca/arete even possible obsoleta variations plus a cacophony of in-betweens. Seeing we were dealing with the Ringlet we thought it appropriate to include a discreet compare/contrast with the Mountain Ringlet - and equally rich in variation - in its English stronghold 50 miles north west in Cumbria. Some of this footage is close-up especially a telling sequence relating to the eye of a mountain Ringlet clinging to mat grass in gale conditions on the very top of the Langdale Pikes at Sergeant Mann at the western end of Pavey Ark. (Blurb on the inside sleeve of the original DVD booklet)

 

Five Mating Pairs of West Yorks Green Hairstreaks from David Wise on Vimeo.

This is a film notable for long sequences of mating butterflies in the Prince of Wales Park, Eldwick, Shibden Head, and Holly Bank Bluff, Queensbury. All are within the Bradford Metropolitan District. The mating pairs on Shibden Head and Hollybank Bluff because of their location high above the surrounding countryside enabled us to establish photographically a depth of field not possible in other circumstances. Those Green Hairstreaks photographed in the Prince of Wales Park are significant on account of how they interact with a light which has the marked effect of producing significant colour changes. These changes involve less saturated variations of the primary colours of red, green and blue that together makes up white light. They also happen to be the colours of the bilberry plant coming into bloom and the young leaves (particularly oak) the butterflies perch on with their reddish tints produced by protected cyanoanthins. Viewing the sequences we also noted how light scatters and bends and that a reddish tinge from a neighbouring bilberry floret would be reflected on a Green Hairstreak wing. Was this an example of chromatic aberration, the fact that light refracts at different angles through a lens and which plagued the great optical instrument makers of the past like Newton and Hooke for the refracting telescope is the forerunner of today's telephoto lenses? Or does it happen in reality that is, one we can observe with our naked eye. It is the kind of dilemma that would have delighted the creator of Kino-eye, Dziga Vertov proving his point that film must always strive to be more than eye candy.Tracking the Green Hairstreak as it came into the Bradford area from 1997 onwards we became very conscious of how chameleon-like the butterfly is - in fact the most changeable of all  British butterflies - one moment very visible the next almost impossible to make out especially when in the north set against bilberry, its food plant of choice. We have yet to capture this movement on film demonstrating the potential for research that exists for anyone armed with patience and a camcorder. (Blurb on the inside sleeve of the original DVD booklet)

 

The Hunting of the Grayling in Healey Mills from David Wise on Vimeo.

This is a contentious film as it deals with the discovery of a large colony of rare Grayling butterflies on the forbidden terrain of Healey Mills in Horbury, West Yorks. Like the Brown Argus entracte this film again lingers over the amazing topography of the yards; the arc lights, broken rails, levers, dollies, modified bow and string bridges which we once played amongst as kids. Once more, whatever the technical defects, these shots of the Grayling in an industrial setting are probably unique and anyone who feels they can do better are welcome to try, not forgetting of course that if caught they face a £1000 fine. Our eventual aim is to save these yards from development. The overbearing bluster of the local EWS management maybe is predicated on the fact these yards are built on a legal basis as infirm as their actual foundation on common marshland - hence the continual problem of subsidence in the central sunken section where all the fun is to be had and which occupies by far the largest area. The date of seizure, probably by the War Dept was around 1914 and the yards originally were created to help the appalling 1914-18 war effort. In fact our most abiding childhood memory of Healey Mills is of "War Dogs", powerfully built steam locomotives which won the freight during the Second World War belching clouds of smoke as they puffed through the yards pulling wagon loads of coal. Early maps show that the yards were criss-crossed by footpaths (no doubt ancient footpaths and still recognised as such in common law) and even ten years ago there was a level crossing which ran right across the yard parallel to Horbury Bridge. The crossing has since been taken up. We get the impression EWS is anxious to keep this knowledge under lock and key. Seeing the yards are a magnet for railway enthusiasts might it not be possible to forge an alliance with this bunch ofinteresting individuals with the aim of keeping the yards exactly as they are? We fervently hope we will be able to get more shots of the Grayling in the yards though neither of us relishes the thought of a stretch in jail (we have already received formal warning!) It is imperitive some sort of inclusive survey of the flora and fauna is carried out promptly for there can be no doubting it is one of the best - certainly most unusual - unrecognised wildlife sites in Yorkshire. (Blurb on the inside of the original DVD booklet).

 

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Below: Provisionally the following two videos on Green Hairstreaks have been placed in this section as they relate to anatomical, often microscopic camcorder studies of butterflies - imago, egg and very young larvae - which we are now engaged in. The two films were produced in 2009. In particular it may also be worth taken a look at the following text as it provides comments which could equally apply, especially observations on the the compound eye of insects....  2009.The Microscope: Eye of the Age. Surveillance or pathway to liberation? 

 

Anatomy Of A Dying West Yorks Green Hairstreak 2008 from David Wise on Vimeo.

 The film is a counterpart to the next film though the photography took place indoors in Bradford. The most noticeable difference is the presence of dust particularly on the compound eye which the poor, dying creature is unable to remove. 

Ovendon Moor Green Hairstreaks 2008 from David Wise on Vimeo.

 Beginning with a general survey of the butterfly's immediate environment in the arena of former industrial dereliction on Ovendon Moor, the film ends up with close up anatomical details of a Green Hairstreak in the wild.

 

 

 

Butterflies
 
Albino Meadow Brown
 
Albino Small Copper. Bradford, W Yorks 1995 Albino  Meadow Brown. Thorne, S Yorks 1997

 

Perhaps the very title of this website may surprise and bewilder. What on earth can it mean and why put dialectics and butterflies together as surely they have nothing in common? Isn’t this merely pretentiousness worthy of some glib, media obsessed air head and installation artiste? The wording though was proposed by a friend in casual conversation - an eco plumber who, a few years previously, helping dig the tunnels, opposing the proposed Newbury by-pass near Oxford, made contact underground - mud in hand - with dissident minor officials employed by Yorkshire Water desperately trying to rescue the image of its water capitalisation (& distribution) after the catastrophic Yorkshire drought of 1995. Dislocation of role as consequence of calamity produced a fruitful chance encounter that would never have occurred in normal circumstances and our plumber friend went on to create various ingenious schemes to conserve water especially for St James Hospital, Leeds in the cardiac dept. In a sense this was negation and dialectical process leading to an action creating another imaginative intervention.

     One of us was in two minds about the website title ‘Dialectical Butterflies’...It was catchy and raised questions of individual identity and that even such a thing as a butterfly was part of a greater whole and interacting with that greater whole. Butterflies do not alter landscapes like Beavers do. That said theirs is not a strictly passive relationship either, and the ever deepening insights of ecology tends to show this is increasingly not the case. Aside from their obvious role as pollinators, they also serve as indicator species. And though it involves a paradigm shift, our response to their disappearance has an environmental and social impact even when we admit we seem powerless to do much about it.

     If you like on this website we’ve tried to put forward something of Hegel’s “dance of the categories". Inevitably too, we felt uneasy about the wording of the title as it recalled to mind one of the most notorious books in history, Engels’s ‘Dialectics of Nature’ though it is hardly Engel’s fault it became such, though as time passed, he did prepare the ground for its canonization by increasingly eliminating the subject from history. The ‘Dialectics of Nature’ is a philosophy of nature, and, like Hegel’s Logic, purports to be a ‘science of the sciences’ but fares rather worse because it is a universal materialist ontology, an objective dialectic without a subject. Reading Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of Nature’ one is struck by the near absence of dialectic and triadic terms (thesis, antithesis, synthesis). He is certainly not forcing nature into the kind of a preconceived schema that Engels’s favours. Rather it is about the conquest of space by a being that is ideally equipped to do just that. Physical movement thus becomes an essential prerequisite of self determination. Once achieved the mind then develops through time i.e. history. We may chortle over the details but the ambitious sweep of the work and its overall conception still holds up after all these years.

    Engels’s book became the bible of the Soviet Union. Given the degree to which the natural sciences were fetishised in the Soviet Union it was hardly surprising it did become holy writ, carved in Moscow stone rather than printed on paper. Teams of philosophers were employed by the state to ensure that the facts could always be made to fit the theory, even if it did mean squashing them out of all recognition. And when quantum physics hit the air waves and the bookstalls from the late 20s onwards wave/particle dualities had to be pressed in to a continuous/discontinuous objective dialectic. However this perverse, state-directed, intellectualism, driven more by fear than a thirst for knowledge, this tireless search for the godhead of dialectical materialism, was a massive diversionary tactic. As H Lefebrve said, ‘What was really at stake was no longer in the forefront of people’s minds, which had been led as far as possible into the depths of nature and cosmological speculation’. The great terror was about to be unleashed and ‘communists’ were to be sent to Spain, not to fight fascism, but to kill anarchists.

     What follows is local and global moving from acute daily observation of Lepidoptera to broader generalisations and back again. Local in the sense Dialectical Butterflies is largely focussed on South and West Yorkshire (the latter in particular) covering the foothills of the Pennines. Here amazing but frightening phenomena are taking place at an astounding pace, although to be fair perhaps only a tad more than elsewhere in the UK - if one can even be so bold as to say that! The cold winters of an immediate yesteryear are gone (for how long one may wonder) and these uplands have become a geographic arena for all kinds of species invasion and/or expansion. This, then, is observation and theory where a certain emphasis has been placed on an accurate environmental, photographic record playing its part and set against the lie that has now become the essence of most contemporary, digitised photography. Global in the sense the changing face of butterflies (& moths) must be placed in a wider context. A passionate and detached study of a particular field of natural history and science can no longer within its own paradigms - as in the past - reveal much of the truth. Studying Lepidoptera is no exception. Such research must inevitably link up with other concerns forcibly impressing upon the simplest observations: ubiquitous Barrett’s type urbanism, urbanism, chemical & emission pollution, extreme weather more than ever conditioned by an ultra-commoditisation and an increasingly imperious law of value. The list is seemingly endless.

      Dialectics today are dormant rather than dead, though they may never re-awaken from their present day rip van winkle of a sleep. And interestingly cosmological speculation plays a similar role today, that of a diversion from the real problems. Only this time it is not natural dialectics but relativistic cosmology and quantum mechanics (e.g. cyberspace and the very computer I am using to type this). The exotic possibilities of space/time providing an illusory escape from an all but ruined planet earth, is central to ‘Our Final Century’ by Sir Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal. Haldane was spot on when he wrote in the 1930s, ‘my suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose’. That this very queerness would one day be used as able to provide an exit from the humdrum and terrible destruction, was something that had to await our times. It gathered strength from the late seventies onwards, as all hope of changing the world faded.

      The need to revive dialectical thought is more pressing than ever. And it was for this reason that we came around to accepting the title, to seeing there was a beauty and a succinctness to it, that said more about butterflies than observation ever could. To amend the words of C L R James, ‘What knows he of butterflies who only butterflies knows’.

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(Seeing this is merely a short introduction we would suggest a visit to the page: Butterflies and Political Economy for further explanation).

Horbury

 

Brown Argus

 

Brock Maris

Grayling (Horbury 2003) Yorkshire Brown Argus (Dinnington 2004 Ab: mariscolare - The Blue Female
(Brockadale 2001)