Saturday, July 11, 2009

Anthill sculpture

It's my birthday, so today I'm leaving you with some new art that was not meant to be art, made by a scientist in collaboration with ants... (Don't mind the off-screen commentary and enjoy the visual ride).



(If you're interested in the ant-not-art part of it, you can see the 6-minute documentary episode here)
(Thanks Pusty!)

10 comments:

Belle Epoque said...

That's awesome...wonder how many ants died in the making of that masterpiece. Happy Birthday...have a good one!

michelleFRANTOM said...

OMG!!! That is just mind blowing. (I did feel sorry for the ants and the destruction of all their work and lives though)

chook said...

Happy Birthday, wish you well.
Saw a film in a Sydney gallery. The artist had put down tiny protest banners amongst leaf cutter ants and they picked them up and carried them aloft just like a human march.

L.M. said...

Belated birthday greetings, puppy.

Melissa Wells said...

Love it! Have you seen the one on display at Smithsonian Nat'l History Museum in Washington DC? It's made of aluminum (less breakage), by scientist Walter Tschinkel.
Termites have amazing interior nest structures too, just dug some up in Namibia.

S said...

What a fascinating project!!
But, I also agree the others that I cannot help thinking about how many ants died in the project.
What a beautiful work though...

Natalis said...

spóźnione ale zawsze coś...

Wszystkiego Naj ! :)

masha said...

This is neither a collaboration, nor art, nor science.

The humans did not collaborate with the ants to create anything, an analogy might be to say that the British Museum's display of the Elgin Marbles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elgin_Marbles) is a collaboration, or art. They are simply taking something others created and co-opting it. There are many artists theorizing and exploring what it could mean to make art in true collaboration with animals (For a start, check these resources: interspeciescollaboration.org, http://www.amazon.com/Man-Who-Talks-Whales-Communication/dp/0971078629/
). Furthermore, the conceptual side of this as art is problematic. The concrete sculpture that results at the end of this process relates to the actual ant colony through intellectually bankrupt 19th century notions of natural history/collecting/taxidermy.

It is also not science because it does not prove or disprove any posited hypothesis, or, worse yet, it doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know. These people could have, with a bit more thought, designed an investigation that would have given them a lot more information, as for example past ant research that tags a number of individuals in the colony with an electronic signature. This can show not only the size of the colony and the chamber architecture, but also live, real-time traffic flows and patterns of behavior. If it is necessary for people to experience the size of the construction viscerally, then a model can easily be built, or maybe it'd be even cooler to have a 3-D virtual reality that lets you navigate the structure in the perspective of the ants. That's an example of an idea that makes sense to contextualize as art, science, and collaboration.

Chris said...

Wow! I have a large ants nest in my garden, I dread to think thats whats beneath it!

cm said...

That was amazing! Who would have thought the tunnels would be that large and intricate. Something to remember the next time I see a "plain ol' ant hill"

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