Nodes and Networks: the city as superorganism

2015 Dec 2 - 10:00pm - 2015 Dec 6 - 10:00pm



I am part of this amazing collective experiment organized by the illustrious Heather Barnett, the doyenne of slime mold art and research, who has brought together a fantastic team of participants for a meet up in NYC.

Here is a link to her site for more detailed information:

Nodes and Networks is a series of collective art and science experiments exploring biological systems as a model and metaphor for social intervention. Taking inspiration from slime mold navigation, bacterial communication, and insect cooperation, a group of artists, designers, and scientists are collaborating on a series of public experiments and interventions across New York City.

Throughout the first week of December, the interdisciplinary team will design experiments that test our collective intelligence in comparison to other, seemingly simpler, organisms. The team will invent experiments, games and activities to explore how the city behaves like an organism. Experiments will be based at the School of Visual Arts’ BioArt Lab, the Metropolitan Museums’ Media Lab, and public sites across the city. Additional participants are invited to join the experiment through public events on 2nd and 6th December.

The project was prompted by the First International Physarum Transport Networks Workshop to be held at Columbia University, 3-5 December 2015. As part of BICT (9th Conference on Bio-inspired Information and Communications Technologies) the scientific workshop is dedicated to a wide spectrum of research on slime molds including physics, cell biology, and genetics of Physarum polycephalum as well as sessions on Education & Science and Art & Science. The giant slime mold cell can mimic human transport systems and navigate efficiently through mazes in search for food. This fascinating foraging behaviour emerges from collective cellular interactions, networking without a brain.

Project lead, Heather Barnett, says Nodes and Networks is a way of exploring the themes of the workshop creatively and from multipledisciplinary perspectives. Simple organisms like slime mold, bacteria and insects offer intriguing models to test how ideas spread, how group decisions are made and how communities cooperate. New York City is a perfect test bed for collective experiments.”

The multidisciplinary team leading the collective experiment includes artists, writers, architects and designers working with biological systems, and scientists from the fields of biophysics, ecology, genetics and neuroscience. Nodes and Networks brings these many heads together to create novel ideas and experiments through a creative emergent process.