TABOO - TRANSGRESSION - TRANSCENDENCE
in Art & Science
26-28 November 2020, University of Applied Arts Vienna/Online
Collaboration is often considered a value, but not a standard behaviour in Western societies, as much of their thinking is rooted in the individualistic view of the subject—based on autonomy and self-determination. Game of Swarms is an artistic investigation and communication device that offers an alternative to that exceptional framework of the human, emphasising the collaborative behaviour of systems in nature.
GOS explores how living organisms work together without central control to adapt to changing conditions. Drawing on theories about self-organisation and swarm intelligence, the project materialises into a cooperative game, whose objective is to co-create its rules, the algorithms that will lead to the construction of a resilient network—and new methodologies to work together. Through the collaboration with a team of ethologists, the project focuses on the collective behaviour of ants, bees and a slime mould, Physarum Polycephalum, which is a rhizomatic-form protist without brain but with great capacity of learning and complex problem-solving. These organisms exhibit efficient systems that survive through cooperation rather than competition, questioning the old saw of ‘survival of the fittest’.
Through the collaboration with a team of ethologists, the project focuses on the collective behaviour of ants, bees and a slime mould, Physarum Polycephalum, which is a rhizomatic-form protist without brain but with great capacity of learning and complex problem-solving. These organisms exhibit efficient systems that survive through cooperation rather than competition.
The research unfolds in three parts: a 3D audiovisual piece that elaborates on the aesthetics of life-forms based on connections, rather than individuals; performative work: a series of workshops with the public to reflect on the biological model of swarms and play with a prototype of the game to create and experiment the rules; and the online version of the game (under construction) that will be incorporated into the website of Mutant Institute of Environmental Narratives.
The current global pandemic forces us to face, once and for all, the fragility of our human structures, whether economics, social or political. The social distance imposed by the State reinforces the division between the ‘self’ and the ‘other’, while calling for the power that each individual’s body has today as a vector of contamination. How will the actors involved in these challenges have agency and response-ability to adapt together to the transformations brought about by our disruptive present? How do these changes inspire new ways to build and sustain a community that cares for and shelters the lives of a world where individual values prevail over the notion of solidarity? GoS poses these questions while claiming the self-organised and auto-poietic forces of living matter. It seeks to stress a non-hierarchical relationship among living organisms that work together through local interactions to achieve a common goal.