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University of Chicago

In collaboration with Predrag Popovic Phd in Geophysical Sciences at University of Chicato Public Presentation + Exhibition

University of Chicago

Chicago, IL
May 10


This project was made possible thanks to the support of The Art Science and Culture Initiative
at The University of Chicago and School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Stigmergy || the space inside repetition

The patterns of bird flocking, microbial growth, and insect colonies have captured the human imagination for centuries.  These patterns demonstrate swarm intelligence, a process where an emergent order arises from seemingly random biological activity, and where apparently dissimilar systems can show very similar behaviour. Predrag Popovic (PhD candidate, Geophysical Sciences, UChicago) and Rosemary Hall ’s (MFA ‘19, Printmedia, SAIC) research focused on the oldest eusocial insect, the termite, and stigmergy (a key concept in the field of swarm intelligence).

The collaboration resulted in a multimedia installation, which included a sound filtering algorithm modeled after stigmergy and a library of books eaten by live termites. The termites ate a book from Life Nature Series, titled, The Universe.Cellulose pages and maps of the cosmos were submitted to termite editing. In time, the termites consumed and created their own architecture out of The Universe.

Through wondering in a termite’s wandering this collaboration searched for hybrid, inbetween, and experimental, translations that invite a broader spectrum of interpretation. Our flesh, our limbs, our movements are inscribed with a multispecies history. The pattern which connects may be best articulated through the poetry of interspecies relations, movements and behaviour.

cabinet, speakers, termites, acrylic

Image Credit: Brittany Laurent