“For example, Roger Caillois on animal mimicry. The insect becomes the double of its background. The moth’s wings imitate shriveled leaves. The caterpillar’s body is indistinguishable from arching twigs. The praying mantis fashions itself as so many emerald blades of grass. Entomological wisdom calls this phenomenon protective coloration. The prey is in hiding, having acted in relation to its predator. If it has passed from figure against ground to ground on ground, it is in order, by outsmarting its tracker, to hold itself intact.
Caillois does not agree. The animal’s camouflage does not serve its life, he says, because it occurs in the realm of vision, whereas animal hunting takes place in the medium of smell. Mimicry is not adaptive behavior; instead, it is a peculiarly psychotic yielding to the call of “space.” It is a failure to maintain the boundaries between inside and outside, between, that is, figure and ground. A slackening of the contours of its own integrity, of its self-possession, it is, as Denis Hollier calls it, a case of “subjective detumescence.” The body collapses, deliquesces, doubles the space around it in order to be possessed by its own surrounds. It is this possession that produces a double that is in effect an effacement of the figure. Ground on ground.
The Optical Unconscious, Rasalind E. Krauss (p. 155-156)