Hermit crabs, like people, are adaptable. As they grow, they move on to newer, bigger shells. Japanese artist Aki Inomata sees this as a strong metaphor for identity transfer; to illustrate this similarity of species, she 3D prints tiny urban buildings that hermit crabs can wear on their backs. The various buildings include windmills, a Parisian apartment, and the New York City skyline. When the crabs outgrow the shells or are forcibly removed from them by other crabs, the process mirrors a human moving away or taking on a new identity.
Inomata has titled her project, "Why Not Hand Over a 'Shelter' to Hermit Crabs?" There are currently three installments, the most recent being the "White Chapel" series. Inomata designed miniature plastic wedding chapels for the crabs to roam around in. On her website, the artists explains that most chapels are used exclusively for weddings, not for religious gatherings. Approximately 60 percent of all Japanese weddings are held in chapels, despite the fact that only one percent of the population is Christian.
To ensure that the little crabs fit in their new homes, Inomata used CT scanning on regular seashells, then created the various architectural structures using 3D printing. Once built, the hermit crabs are given the opportunity to climb on in and wear the work of art.