Kuai Shen

0h!m1gas

Kuai Shen  0h!m1gas

source: kuaishentv

0h!m1gas: biomimetic stridulation environment is an artistic research and audiovisual installation that approaches the self-organization in ants as a cybernetic system with emergent acoustic manifestations. 0h!m1gas is an artificial ecology that investigates the complexity of leaf-cutter ants by amplifying their vibratory signals, known as stridulations, while doing a motion tracking of their social labour. By means of contact microphones, turntables and video cameras interfaced with a computer vision program in Max Jitter, the life of the ant colony emerges as a complex soundscape of scratching and stridulation effects. The installation consists of two main components: the biological (composed by ants, fungi and vegetation) and the technological (composed by turntables, microphones, video and computer). The aim of this artistic research is the exploration of the stridulation phenomena of ants as a modulation mechanism in their self-organization, which can be perceived as a multiple network of parallel tasks regulated by local interaction and feedback.

The source of inspiration for this sound-reactive installation is based on the functional resemblance of the turntable, as an artifact for sound production in human culture, with the stridulatory organ of several highly evolved ants, specifically the Attini leafcutter ants, as an artifact for social organization: a reactive soundscape, which reveals the connection between scratching as an aesthetic expression created by human culture, and the stridulation phenomena as a modulation mechanism for communication in ants.

I believe we can learn from the way the ants construct their minature ecosystems. Like them, we can apply an experimental design approach based on self-organization, where sounds and physical interaction promote and consolidate the interaction of life. .
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source: kunstetage-deutzde

Biomimetics, or biomimicry, is increasingly becoming a force of knowledge which is bringing practices and theories of arts and sciences together. Biomimetics can influence and inspire the creation of socially responsible art forms, with sustainable functional purposes for the environment and based on sustainable organic materials, that can as well originate and enrich inter-specific interactions. By nurturing the formation of bottom-up organisms inspired by successful models in nature with an experimental (and chaotic) application of self-organization, open networks for ideas and cultural interaction between living beings emerge. Hence, such a network becomes a system which could balance the artificial and the natural world in ways that cannot be predicted but experienced.

Kuai Shen, born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, is an ANT LOVER. He holds a BA in digital arts from University San Francisco de Quito, an MA in media arts from the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, and another MA in Game Design and Development from the University of Applied Sciences Cologne. He has exhibited internationally at media art festivals, galleries and biennials in Germany, Belgium, England, Slovenia, Italy, Mexico, Canada and China, as well as participated in important European symposia. Kuai Shen has published his research with ants in a book entitled «Biologically-Inspired Computing for the Arts» from the University of Colorado and in the Leonardo MIT Journal for the Siggraph. His artistic approach to self-organization and emergence is envisioned in audiovisual installations that reflect on interspecies artistic collaboration with ants and the metaphor of a post-human ecology, an ecology whose future lies in the communication between species and the mutualism between technological media (human artifacts) and insect media (biological organisms). His current research focuses on ant mimicry in the post-biologic technology of humans based on phenomenology, resilient networks and mimicry. In 2013 he won the Edith-Russ-Haus Medienkunstpreis and received an honorary mention in hybrid art at the Prix Ars Electronica..
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source: imagesfestival

Oh!m1gas is a tribute to the sophistication and organization of ant colonies, where the activity of each individual is predetermined and contributes to the life of the colony as a whole. Kuai Shen’s installation at InterAccess consists of turntables, cameras, contact microphones, video monitors, speakers and a plexiglass structure housing 1,000 live ants. This biomimetic environment, as explained by Shen, “is based on a ‘do-it-yourself’ approach to bioacoustics, measuring the vibratory sounds and mapping the activity of an ant colony and their relation to the artificial ecosystem where they live. By means of contact microphones and video surveillance interfaced with the computer, which then feeds this bio-data to two turntables, the life of the ant colony emerges as a soundscape of scratching effects.” The scratching of the needle on the turntable is directly linked to the activities of the ants who produce their own scratching (called “stridulation”) in order to communicate with their cohorts as they work. The handsome vivarium that contains the ants allows the viewer to watch the colony at work, building nests and harvesting leaves that are the processed into a mush that will grow the fungus to feed the colony.

Shen regards these miniature ecosystems as models to be considered in the creation of other interactive systems. The specific analogue qualities of the turntable and the vinyl record are generated from, but also stand in contrast with, the stridulation of the labouring ants. Turntables, and scratching in particular, exist in the aesthetic or cultural realm, while the scratching of the ants is for purely practical purposes. Here we have the intersection and interaction of a system of labour and a system of leisure, in the context of the art gallery and the festival. Thus we can understand this biomimetric stridulation environment as a system among systems, one that has as much to say about humans as it does about ants.

Kuai Shen holds a BA in digital arts from University San Francisco de Quito,
Ecuador and a Diploma in Medienkunst with honours from the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, and he recently finished interdisciplinary research in Game Design and Development at the University of Applied Sciences Cologne.