Nodes and Networks: the city as superorganism
Nodes and Networks is a collective art and science experiment exploring biological systems as a model and metaphor for social intervention. Taking inspiration from slime mould navigation, bacterial communication and insect cooperation, groups of artists, designers, and scientists collaborate on devising and delivering public experiments and interventions in the city.
Nodes and Networks | New York City
Feature in SciArt Magazine
Some of the Nodes and Networks collaborators share their experiences working across disciplinary divides and with public participants in an open and exploratory process emphasising mutual inquiry.
Their perspectives cover collective creativity, citizen science, the relationships between biological and technological networks, and the challenge of trying to understand the subjective life experience of a simple single–celled organism.
Nodes and Networks | New York City
Throughout the first week of December 2015, an international multidisciplinary team came together to design a series of experiments to test human collective intelligence in comparison to other, seemingly simpler, organisms, looking particularly at behaviours of the slime mould Physarum polycephalum. The team invented lab experiments, participatory games and tracking activities to explore biological, cultural and social mechanisms and invited a group of New Yorkers to join in the experimentation in a one day marathon of creative and critical exploration.
The project was prompted by the First International Physarum Transport Networks Workshop, held at Columbia University, 3-5 December 2015. As part of BICT (9th Conference on Bio-inspired Information and Communications Technologies) the scientific workshop was dedicated to a wide spectrum of research on slime moulds including physics, cell biology, and genetics of Physarum polycephalum as well as sessions on Education & Science and Art & Science. The giant slime mould cell can mimic human transport systems and navigate efficiently through mazes in search for food, its foraging behaviour emerging from collective cellular interactions, networking without a brain. Nodes and Networks | New York City was a way to explore the themes of the workshop creatively and from multi-disciplinary perspectives. Simple organisms like slime mould offer intriguing models to test how ideas spread, how group decisions are made and how communities cooperate.
The multidisciplinary team leading the collective experiment included artists, writers, architects and designers working with biological systems, and scientists from the fields of biophysics, ecology, genetics and neuroscience. Nodes and Networks brought these many heads together to create novel ideas and experiments through a creative emergent process.
Nodes and Networks | New York City was organised by:
Adrian Fessel, biophysicist, University of Bremen
Alison Irvine, theatre artist, Cut Paste Grow
Mitchell Joachim, architect, Terreform ONE
Oliver Kellhammer, artist and urban ecologist, Parsons School of Design
Sarah Kornbluth, ecologist, Rutgers University
Jonghyun Lee, biophysicist, University of Bremen
Colleen Macklin, games designer, Parsons School of Design
Christine Marizzi, geneticist, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Christina Oettmeier, biologist, University of Bremen
Pia O’Neill, neuroscientist, Columbia University
Jennifer Sta. Ines, geospatial analyst, NYC Department of Transportation
Lior Zalmanson, internet researcher, NYU School of Business