Autoinducer_Ph (Cross Cultural Chemistry)


The idea of making art with living system is not new – you might ever consider a garden to be biological art. What is new is the degree of control over the biological systems and materials that contemporary art offers us. The aim of some projects, like Telegarden, has always been to articulate a link between natural processes and communication networks in symbolic and mechanical terms. British artist Andy Gracie follows this stream working with events at the intersection of the technological and the biological. With the collaboration of the American scientist Brian Lee Yung Rowe he has created Autoinducer_Ph (Cross Cultural Chemistry), an installation created for the AV06, Newcastle International Audio Video Festival. The project exploits a traditional rice cultivation technique from Asia based on the symbiotic association between the Anabena, a microscopic filamentous alga, and the water fern Azolla. The installation, which includes an assemblage of pond-like structures, electronics, laboratory and hydroponic equipment, uses the Generalized Cellular Signaling system, a platform for exploring emergent behavior and intelligence, to interfere with the symbiotic relation. The GCS bacteria signals, sometimes translated in sound and lights, are converted into inputs to control various actuators that regulate the environment in which the bacteria are being cultured. The sum effect is a bio-artificial ecosystem, which takes the form of a water garden which sustains living bacteria, robotic systems and artificial lifeforms, pushing our notions of life, intelligence and being into new territories.
Valentina Culatti