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Squid Squid1 Squid2


40' long


Architeuthis, commonly known as the giant squid, has long been a challenge to the scientists who study it. Before 1861, when a French warship hauled a portion of an enormous cephalopod on board, the creature was considered to be mythical. Since then, several dead or dying specimens have been retrieved from beaches or the nets of trawlers; none have survived. Thus, most of what is known about the various species of the giant squid has been learned from studying its remains. This information is largely related to appearance and internal anatomy. Regarding habitat and behavior, knowledge is limited to educated guesses based on similar species. The giant squid is aptly named. It weighs up to 1000 pounds and may reach lengths approaching 60 feet, with the tentacles extended. Since 1882, various attempts have been made to create models of the giant squid that communicate its impressive size and unusual appearance. They were often constructed using materials that resulted in stiff and lifeless postures. In more recent times, the use of newer plastics such as polyurethane foam permits the arms of the giant squid to be positioned in more fluid poses.


Teuthologist Clyde Roper, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the giant squid and Matthew Palmer, sculptor, are collaborating to create a model of the giant squid that combines the best scientific information available today with an artist’s vision of the mystery and magnificence of the creature. Research efforts are underway to enter the domain of the giant squid. Dr. Roper has lead several expeditions using submersibles and special cameras developed to reach deep into the ocean where the giant squid lives. Technology is rapidly evolving that will allow man to perhaps glimpse these creatures in their habitat, thus expanding our firsthand knowledge of squid behavior. The time is right for the creation of a new model of the giant squid. Materials and knowledge have evolved to a higher level. The model will be descriptively accurate. At forty feet in length, it will convey the majesty of the giant squid; it will both educate and inspire. The following is a description of the three basic options for proceeding with the development of this project.


This option would create a powerful sculptural presence with an incredible attention to detail. Initially Mr. Palmer would model the original sculpture in collaboration with Dr. Roper. A mold would then be made of the original so that a relatively lightweight glass fiber edition could be produced. Each model in the edition would be more or less identical with the exception of subtle variations in the paint job that could be used to create different effects. This model does not permit any form of adjustment or customizing. This is the most durable form of production especially in a setting where the model is exposed to the ocean air.


This option is similar to the first in that the final product would be of rigid construction. The difference is that the arms would be produced from the mold in flexible foam that could be custom posed before being finished off in glass fiber. No further adjustments can be made after the pose is set.


This is the Cadillac of giant squid models. The arms and the tentacles would be cast in a silicon skin with a flexible foam core and reinforced with either a maneuverable armature or an interchangeable support. This would not only allow custom positioning for space requirements but would also permit repositioning of the model in the future to reflect new discoveries about Architeuthis.


To add another unique feature to the giant squid model, the feeder clubs could be positioned at a level that would allow viewers to touch them. The maneuverability of the display would illustrate the function of the clubs as well as provide a squid like texture. This would also provide a wonderful photo opportunity as visitors get their picture taken being snatched up by Architeuthis. The interactive option could be incorporated into any of the three basic production options previously mentioned above.

© 2009 Matthew Gray Palmer Fine Arts

Photo credit - Danielle Dean Palmer