In this piece, the labour of leaf-cutter ants is monitored by contact microphones and motion tracking cameras. The cameras use computer vision algorithms to provide data which drives servo motors operating two turntables. The resultant scratching of vinyl records generates a sonic and mechnico-gestural parallel to the ant stridulations (rubbing together of body parts) which largely serve to modulate their collective activities, while also producing heat and sound which in turn influence heat and humidity parameters in the artificial ant ecosystem. This curious coupling of a DJ scratch aesthetic and ant stridulations yields a “technozoosemiotic” system (Louis Bec), which combines living, communicational and technological forces. Oh!m1gas is a dynamic, evolving system crafted from carefully layered environments whose inter-connections are ensured by information literally and audibly manifest as “noise-to-signal” ratio. Close-ups and overview shots of the working ants, and renderings of continuously processed data, are displayed on screens within the installation space. Together with sonic outbursts from the turntables, these sensory stimuli dramatically disrupt our notions of scale as spectators of a bio-cybernetic arena. The strength of this piece lies in its amplification of the energies of ostensibly insignificant organisms, thereby perceived as spectacularly significant mediators in a “scratch orchestra” whose score is their relentless, seemingly indifferent work. The work is effectively scoped for human observers, yet leaves us wondering where and how we relate to this world that is so largely of our own making.
Oh!m1gas: biomimetric stridulation environment
Kuai Shen (Ecuador)
VIDA 13.2 - Special mention