Bi0film.net: Resist like bacteria

Jung Hsu (TW), Natalia Rivera (CO)

By late 2019 and early 2020, border closures and confinement measures abruptly interrupted the protests that were emerging around the world. This paralysis of widespread demonstrations during the pandemic generated the need to rethink and create alternative forms of civil resistance, while radically transforming our narratives, metaphors, and understandings on the living systems and their ways to break through, especially in microorganisms.  

Bacteria, which were here long before us, have developed amazing technologies of distributed communication and self-organized collaboration. Large numbers of microorganisms can act in unison without any leader, and their ability to communicate with other species also allows them to easily relate, skillfully responding to any situation in their environment.  

However, these bacterial resistance technologies have been colonized by militarist narratives that have taken over all our spaces. Microorganisms are regarded as enemies, the entire world undertook a “war against the invisible enemy” – the SARS-CoV-2, the body is seen as a battlefield, a battle that today “we are losing against the bacterial resistance,” and the immune system is a supposed military intelligence, an idea that insults the real intelligence of the living. 

Bi0film.net, our open project, praises bacterial resistance in contrast to the reductionist discourse of war. We took one of the Hong Kong movement’s icons, the yellow umbrella, and adapted it based on an open resource created by Andrew McNeil, to be used as a parabolic WiFi antenna. Other than covering, hiding, and protecting the user, Bi0film.net helps them communicate. The umbrella can act as an antenna for a mini server, a repeater or a router, increasing the range, while building a nomadic network that accompanies the demonstration in the streets. In the move, the network connects and disconnects organically. Demonstrators can join the virtual Bi0film to chat, share files, and store them.  

We aim at facilitating the connection to alternative networks, and at the same time acknowledge the importance of seeking autonomy in our communication technologies, now when internet censorship is used as a tool of repression on the part of authoritarian regimes. 

This project opens a non-disciplinary conversation between activists, biologists, hacker communities, artists, and everyone interested in co-creating other possible future communication systems. Besides the umbrella-antenna as a tool, the question and the processes around autonomous communication networks are still open for us. Together with those joining the conversation, the Bi0film.net community continues developing the possibilities for p2p, encrypted, decentralized, and federated communication technologies, creating a biofilm itself that amplifies and enhances the connection of diverse communities worldwide.  

Through artistic processes, we wonder about other politics of the living, other possibilities besides authoritarian and hierarchical political organizations, which, through long experience, we already know don't work for us. These collaborative practices, and not only biotechnologies created in laboratories or digital technologies, are the technologies of the living through which we resist more and more as communities of organisms and less as individuals isolated by capitalism. Biotechnologies as other living, evolutionary, and mutant forms of resistance. 

Self-organizing, collaborating, and communicating in a decentralized and distributed way are some of the wonderful actions of the living to break through, and that is what “resist like bacteria” means. 

By late 2019 and early 2020, border closures and confinement measures abruptly interrupted the protests that were emerging around the world. This paralysis of widespread demonstrations during the pandemic generated the need to rethink and create alternative forms of civil resistance, while radically transforming our narratives, metaphors, and understandings on the living systems and their ways to break through, especially in microorganisms.  

Bacteria, which were here long before us, have developed amazing technologies of distributed communication and self-organized collaboration. Large numbers of microorganisms can act in unison without any leader, and their ability to communicate with other species also allows them to easily relate, skillfully responding to any situation in their environment.  

However, these bacterial resistance technologies have been colonized by militarist narratives that have taken over all our spaces. Microorganisms are regarded as enemies, the entire world undertook a “war against the invisible enemy” – the SARS-CoV-2, the body is seen as a battlefield, a battle that today “we are losing against the bacterial resistance,” and the immune system is a supposed military intelligence, an idea that insults the real intelligence of the living. 

Bi0film.net, our open project, praises bacterial resistance in contrast to the reductionist discourse of war. We took one of the Hong Kong movement’s icons, the yellow umbrella, and adapted it based on an open resource created by Andrew McNeil, to be used as a parabolic WiFi antenna. Other than covering, hiding, and protecting the user, Bi0film.net helps them communicate. The umbrella can act as an antenna for a mini server, a repeater or a router, increasing the range, while building a nomadic network that accompanies the demonstration in the streets. In the move, the network connects and disconnects organically. Demonstrators can join the virtual Bi0film to chat, share files, and store them.  

We aim at facilitating the connection to alternative networks, and at the same time acknowledge the importance of seeking autonomy in our communication technologies, now when internet censorship is used as a tool of repression on the part of authoritarian regimes. 

This project opens a non-disciplinary conversation between activists, biologists, hacker communities, artists, and everyone interested in co-creating other possible future communication systems. Besides the umbrella-antenna as a tool, the question and the processes around autonomous communication networks are still open for us. Together with those joining the conversation, the Bi0film.net community continues developing the possibilities for p2p, encrypted, decentralized, and federated communication technologies, creating a biofilm itself that amplifies and enhances the connection of diverse communities worldwide.  

Through artistic processes, we wonder about other politics of the living, other possibilities besides authoritarian and hierarchical political organizations, which, through long experience, we already know don't work for us. These collaborative practices, and not only biotechnologies created in laboratories or digital technologies, are the technologies of the living through which we resist more and more as communities of organisms and less as individuals isolated by capitalism. Biotechnologies as other living, evolutionary, and mutant forms of resistance. 

Self-organizing, collaborating, and communicating in a decentralized and distributed way are some of the wonderful actions of the living to break through, and that is what “resist like bacteria” means. 

www.mutantelab.com/biofilm-net

Project by: Jung Hsu, Natalia Rivera 

Co-creation with: Mutante, Juan Diego Rivera, Manuel Orellana, Carlos Acosta, Margarita González, Daniel Osorio, Ana Isabel Castrillón, Robert Schnüll, Medienhaus/ project  

In dialogue with: Juan Manuel Anzola, Lulu Hsieh, Carlos Maldonado, ZKL, I Lun Shih, Shung Fuwei 

Video edition: Juan Diego Rivera  

Shooting: Juan Diego Riveram, Leslie Chi, Chunli Wang 

Models: Vais Yakarivuwan, Brian Chang  

Script proofreading: Sandra Ramos  

Based on the tutorial by Andrew Mcneil: The Wifi Umbrella Ultra long range Wifi 

New Media Class – UDK Berlin, Prof. Jussi Ängeslevä, Luiz Zanotello 

Project connected to the Suratómica Network. Coproduced by Mutante. 

Jung Hsu (TW) is a researcher and new media artist based in Berlin. She attempts to combine interdisciplinary knowledge with artistic research to create heterogeneous encounters. In her process, she responds to the current social situation with multiple perspectives and uses metaphorical objects to create a speculative scenario. Her recent work has focused on micro-biopolitics and social movements. Natalia Rivera (CO) is an emergent-media artist currently exploring the possibilities of digital technologies as inter living-entities mutual aid media. In the context of indeterminate/queer knowledge creation, their processes are interdisciplinary, open, collective, collaborative, and communitarian, through the Mutante laboratory (Bogotá) and the global Suratómica Network for creation—art and science.  

Jung Hsu (TW) is a researcher and new media artist based in Berlin. She attempts to combine interdisciplinary knowledge with artistic research to create heterogeneous encounters. In her process, she responds to the current social situation with multiple perspectives and uses metaphorical objects to create a speculative scenario. Her recent work has focused on micro-biopolitics and social movements. Natalia Rivera (CO) is an emergent-media artist currently exploring the possibilities of digital technologies as inter living-entities mutual aid media. In the context of indeterminate/queer knowledge creation, their processes are interdisciplinary, open, collective, collaborative, and communitarian, through the Mutante laboratory (Bogotá) and the global Suratómica Network for creation—art and science.