| Cell | City
Barnett + plan b (Sophia New & Daniel Belasco Rogers)
& 24 September, 2017 | 1-5PM
This 2-day workshop is a participatory experiment on art, performance
and biology that precedes the exhibition Nonhuman Networks.
The project invites the participants to view the city of Berlin
by the nonhuman perspectives of the intelligent single-cell organism,
the slime mould, Physarum polycephalum and GPS tracking.
slime mould is a bright yellow amoeba that possesses primitive intelligence,
problem solving skills and memory. It is highly efficient at forming
networks between given points and has been used to map the worlds'
transport networks, migration routes and desire paths, most notably
in 2010 it accurately replicated the Tokyo rail network. It is also
quite beautiful, the branching patterns reminiscent of forms seen
at varying scales within nature, from blood vessels to tree branches,
from river deltas to lightening flashes. It can learn about its
environment, remember where it's been and navigate through complex
territories - all without any sensory organs and no brain.
the historical and contemporary topography of Berlin as inspiration,
we propose a series of experiments and activities, which explore
collective communication, cooperation and navigation at different
scales - in slime mould and in humans! The events are designed to
complement the exhibition Nonhuman Networks at Art Laboratory
Berlin (opening 29 September, 2017), exploring the network ability
of simple organisms, such as slime mould and mycelium.
organisms offer intriguing models to examine collective behaviours:
how ideas spread, how group decisions are made, and how communities
cooperate. We want to use the slime mould as a model to look at
human systems - urban, social and cultural - exploring how people
interact and respond to their environment, how they gather and distribute
information. We want to create a platform for exploring alternative
ways of seeing and behaving, individually and collectively.
The aim of Swarm | Cell | City is to create the conditions
for critical and creative learning to take place, without trying
to control the outcomes. By using participatory arts and performance
practices to explore the creative potential for bio/social models,
we hope to create a collective 'system of enquiry' with everyone
as co-creators. Through the workshops participants will learn about
slime mould intelligence, create annotated maps capturing observations
of city exploration, construct experiments for slime mould growth,
devise their own city explorations, and engage in collective performance
origins of the creative exploration will derive from self-organising
principles in natural phenomena, for example using stigmergic processes.
Stigmergy is a mechanism of indirect coordination, through
the environment, between agents or actions. The principle is that
a trace left in the environment by one action stimulates the performance
of a subsequent action. In this way, actions reinforce and build
on each other, leading to the spontaneous emergence of coherent,
apparently systematic activity. Ants leave pheromone signals, slime
mould leave membranous trails, termites leave mud balls - all communicating
to others important information about environmental conditions.
We will take these processes as a basis for creative improvisation
and communication between humans in an urban environment.
Barnett is an artist, researcher and educator working with natural
phenomena and biological design, often in collaboration with scientists,
artists, participants and organisms. Utilising living materials
and imaging technologies, her practice explores how we observe,
represent and understand the world around us. Projects include microbial
portraiture, systems modelling, and an ongoing 'collaboration' with
an intelligent slime mould, Physarum polycephalum. As one of the
world's largest single-celled organisms, the slime mould possesses
a skilful ability to solve spatial problems and learn from interactions
with its environment.
Heather Barnett: What
humans can learn from semi-intelligent slime (TED Talk, Berlin
plan b is the artist duo Sophia New and Daniel
Belasco Rogers. Since 2003 (Daniel) and 2007 (Sophia), plan
b have recorded and stored every daily movement using GPS technology.
Results of this are presented in festivals, galleries and at http://planbperformance.net.
In their performance work, they explore topics such as the dynamics
of conversation, singing, confessions and cycling. They also work
in the fields of installation, new media, fine art and give workshops.
Since the establishment of plan b in 2002, they have developed more
than 25 projects, which have been and are to be seen in over 27
the generous support of: