Swarming / Swimming

Honey Biba Beckerlee (DK)

Swarming/Swimming nods to the submarine internet cables that form the physical infrastructure for the vast information cloud of our current digital age. All that information is carried by light signals running inside the cables, thereby anchoring the Internet’s rapid, ceaseless flow of information in earthbound digital nervous systems that criss-cross the planet.  

Swarming/Swimming is woven out of seaweed and optical fiber. The light signals running through the weaving is modelled on the Particle Swarm Optimisation Algorithm, which in turn is inspired by various swarming animals such as bees, butterflies, and birds and their ability to coordinate collective actions in large groups. The swarm is an example of a form of intelligence that transcends the individual. The intelligence of the swarm resides in the sum of all those who are part of it—in the total composition of many bodies working together as one, forming a common body. The swarm is an example of a sophisticated technology that emanates from non-human actors. In computer science, swarm intelligence algorithms are used to optimise the distribution of data in the Internet’s complicated network. Reflecting this, Beckerlee’s work examines how our technology borrows from and builds on knowledge found in the more-than-human world. 

To the naked eye the woven motif depicts intersecting ripples on the surface of water. But the pattern refers to the interference pattern, the famous pattern and result of the double-slit experiment that was made to prove that light is wave and not particle and which later became the outset for the “discovery” of quantum mechanics. The double- slit experiment has prompted more questions than answers about the complicated and ambivalent nature of light, but can reveal that, depending on the experimental set-up, light is either wave or particle, or both. In other words, our apparatuses of inquiry and scientific categories have a very concrete, real impact on the world that appears before us. 

Swarming/Swimming nods to the submarine internet cables that form the physical infrastructure for the vast information cloud of our current digital age. All that information is carried by light signals running inside the cables, thereby anchoring the Internet’s rapid, ceaseless flow of information in earthbound digital nervous systems that criss-cross the planet.  

Swarming/Swimming is woven out of seaweed and optical fiber. The light signals running through the weaving is modelled on the Particle Swarm Optimisation Algorithm, which in turn is inspired by various swarming animals such as bees, butterflies, and birds and their ability to coordinate collective actions in large groups. The swarm is an example of a form of intelligence that transcends the individual. The intelligence of the swarm resides in the sum of all those who are part of it—in the total composition of many bodies working together as one, forming a common body. The swarm is an example of a sophisticated technology that emanates from non-human actors. In computer science, swarm intelligence algorithms are used to optimise the distribution of data in the Internet’s complicated network. Reflecting this, Beckerlee’s work examines how our technology borrows from and builds on knowledge found in the more-than-human world. 

To the naked eye the woven motif depicts intersecting ripples on the surface of water. But the pattern refers to the interference pattern, the famous pattern and result of the double-slit experiment that was made to prove that light is wave and not particle and which later became the outset for the “discovery” of quantum mechanics. The double- slit experiment has prompted more questions than answers about the complicated and ambivalent nature of light, but can reveal that, depending on the experimental set-up, light is either wave or particle, or both. In other words, our apparatuses of inquiry and scientific categories have a very concrete, real impact on the world that appears before us. 

www.honeybibabeckerlee.com/Swarming-Swimming

Artwork by Honey Biba Beckerlee 

With support from: Statens Kunstfond, Beckett Fonden, Grosserer L.F. Foghts Fond, Novo Nordisk Foundation

Honey Biba Beckerlee (DK) graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, the Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main, , and Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK in 2008. Beckerlee holds a PhD from Aarhus University and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts through the Novo Nordisk Foundation's PhD Scholarships in practice-based research. Beckerlee’s practice renegotiates the established notions of the interfaces between our body, physical surroundings, nature, and technology, thus placing technology in a new decentralized perspective that is part of a complex more-than-human entanglement. 

Honey Biba Beckerlee (DK) graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, the Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main, , and Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK in 2008. Beckerlee holds a PhD from Aarhus University and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts through the Novo Nordisk Foundation's PhD Scholarships in practice-based research. Beckerlee’s practice renegotiates the established notions of the interfaces between our body, physical surroundings, nature, and technology, thus placing technology in a new decentralized perspective that is part of a complex more-than-human entanglement. 

The information infrastructure, essential yet often hidden, becomes acutely vulnerable when disrupted, highlighting the need for resilient communication and alternative solutions. Swarming / Swimming is a simple installation, interweaving seaweed and optical fiber, which showcases the delicate balance between nature and technology. The seaweed symbolizes interconnected ecosystems and the cascading effects of unchecked proliferation, while the tapestry-like weaving mirrors the interconnectedness of our digital age and historical power structures. A wave-like pattern, inspired by the double-slit experiment, evokes the quantum phenomenon of wave-particle duality. Through the use of swarm intelligence to guide light, this artwork invites contemplation on leveraging complex systems for harmonious coexistence.

The information infrastructure, essential yet often hidden, becomes acutely vulnerable when disrupted, highlighting the need for resilient communication and alternative solutions. Swarming / Swimming is a simple installation, interweaving seaweed and optical fiber, which showcases the delicate balance between nature and technology. The seaweed symbolizes interconnected ecosystems and the cascading effects of unchecked proliferation, while the tapestry-like weaving mirrors the interconnectedness of our digital age and historical power structures. A wave-like pattern, inspired by the double-slit experiment, evokes the quantum phenomenon of wave-particle duality. Through the use of swarm intelligence to guide light, this artwork invites contemplation on leveraging complex systems for harmonious coexistence.