04. Swarm art Computing Appraisal


From its commercial games/film humble beginnings with craig Reynolds paper Flocks, Herds, and Schools: A Distributed Behavioral Model (http://www.cs.toronto.edu/~dt/siggraph97-course/cwr87/) the ideas of using swarm algorithms in art are growing and varied in there output. From the artwork of 2001 Leonel Moura who produced Swarm Paintings with a ant algorithm to the beautiful installation Diffusion Choir,(https://vimeo.com/187037469) the movements of the sculpture are perpetually evolving, driven by the flocking simulation.

The idea of emergence deriving from flocking algorithms is inherent in the algorithms developed for Stochastic diffusion search (J.M Bishop) 1989 and 1992 Ant colony optimization (Marco Dorigo). In art it was first seen in the artwork of 2001 Leonel Moura who produced Swarm Paintings with an ant algorithm. http://www.leonelmoura.com/index.php/robot-art/swarm-paintings/

In his book, Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Cities and Software, Steven Johnson presents Emergence as an alternative way of understanding complex systems. A hierarchical, top-down system attempts to use a centralized decision-making process based on abstract rules to guide behavior. The emergent position looks at complex systems differently: a small number of rules that are processed by individual units are the best method of explaining the aggregate behavior. While a statistical analysis of an emergent system will lead to abstract outcomes. This system has an inherent relationship with Swarm intelligence (SI) that the collective behavior of decentralized, self-organized systems, natural or artificial.  A population of simple agents or boids interacting locally with one another and with their environment (The expression was introduced by Gerardo Beni and Jing).

If we look at the swarm art sister of cellular automata with swarm art (http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7361206/) its a topic that Andy Lomas uses in his artworks which he calls Morphogenetic Creations. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7u2CVXzs2c). There are simularities with this work and Neri Oxman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVa_IZVzUoc. Both use a mixture of cellular automata with swarm art algorithms.

Swarm art in architecture. The paper of swarm modeling by Carranza, Pablo Miranda and Paul Coates (https://www.generativeart.com/on/cic/2000/CARRANZA_COATES.HTM.) , Paul chooses swarms as a study case is the fascination of the simplicity of its mechanics and its complexity as a phenomenon. It describes the swarms understanding them as examples of sensori-motor intelligence. Another architect Arne Quinze uses curves, lines, colours and movement in his pieces. his woodstick structures provide a feeling of movement and fluidity, that combine to create a large frame structure. (https://www.dezeen.com/2008/12/09/the-sequence-by-arne-quinze/)

When we look at swarm interactive art that utilizes a proximity sensor such as the kinect the observer becomes a conductor of the art form and becomes far more immersed in the work. More connected to the work and more responsive. Great examples of this work are Daniel Rozin, “Penguins Mirror,” 2015 (https://vimeo.com/129674054) and the swarm wall by Michael Theodore (https://vimeo.com/45073818).

The psychology of swarm interactive art is an inherent behaviour of human urbanization. We like living in close proximity. We enjoy the human swarms at football matches as well as the group human interactions of dance and team events. Swarming behavior is part of our psychology as Dr Ian Couzin has been researching.(http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/13/science/13traff.html).

The future of swarm art lies in more immersive experiences. Either in the real word or the virtual world. The idea of mobile interactive swarms in the real world will be the closest we can experience the true wonders of swarm art. The development process of 3d swarm art computing is very much tied to technology and how and what we can physically do. At the moment we don’t have any technology that can integrate into a entire swarm. We do have air drones and they have been used in previous installations the Faena Studio Drift 300 Drone Swarm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGmtId_ePmc but as yet they haven’t been used to this extent inside a installation venue. When air drones can be made to be insect size and can fly for greater times proper inside swarms will emerge.