Micro-ritmos, AI orchestrating bacteria


If early cybernetics was tied to the development of self-regulating machines, which were imagined by their makers as analogous to biological beings, later the discipline expanded to an environmental scale, simulating the complex interlinking of different processes within whole ecosystems. The nomadic artist collective Interspecifics situates itself within this wake. Their work “Micro-ritmos” is a sensorial space formed by the interactions between biological processes, digital computation and the human senses. The piece is driven by electrical signals originating in bacterial cells obtained from soil collected on location. The tiny signals generated by the bacteria are amplified and used to trigger an array of flashing lights, which act as a sort of interspecies communication device reminiscent of the visual music organ depicted in the science fiction movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, in which a team of human scientists communicates with an alien UFO. In “Micro-ritmos” the flashing lights triggered by the bacteria are captured by several cameras connected to computers which use machine learning algorithms for pattern recognition. A form of artificial intelligence thus maps light sequences to sound generators which are spatialised over an 8 channel speaker system. The work is presented in a theatrical format, addressing the human senses through frontal visual and enveloping acoustic stimulation. The human spectator finds himself immersed within an environment in which a hybrid cyborg-bacteria colony transmits signals to a completely artificial computational entity. Similarly to how we observe our broader terrestrial environment, in which chaotic natural phenomena merge seamlessly with equally chaotic human made networks of machines, spectators can attempt to decode the perceived patterns, or else sit back and be mesmerised by the resulting effect. The technology utilised is all open source and well documented on the website of the artists. Matteo Marangoni


Interspecifics – Micro-ritmos
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