0h!m1gas, biomimetic surveillance for scratching


Relationships between art and nature have been proposed for a long time – although they mostly function on an aesthetic level. The work of Kuai Shen, however, goes far beyond classical observations. His installation 0h!m1gas makes both artistic and scientific advances – creating a closed environment, an artificial ecosystem, defined as “biomimetics stridulation”, where a colony of ants lives subjected to video and sound surveillance. The engine of the project is biomimetics, a tool already used for science research and an emerging practice in the art world. Its functioning is based on the observation of nature with the aim of reproducing observed structures. The movement of ants, played by a digital matrix, turns over two vinyl records, which in turn generate sounds surprisingly similar to those produced by the insects. Working as a Dj collective, the ants scratch unconsciously inside a sound system that collects the work of individual insects to create a sound picture still more complex and unpredictable. Kuai Shen has said: “I expect that my ants always surprise me.” This installation is at the heart of those methods being employed to highlight socio-artistic similarities and differences between humans and animals. The search for a common basis for communication among species that may lead to new interpretations of natural phenomena is still in early stages, although it is starting to shed new light on the biological importance of social networks.

Benedetta Sabatini