TV Ant Farm
Ant Farm, electronics
TV Ant Farm was motivated by a statement in Lewis Thomas’s book, Lives of a Cell. He states that social insects, like ants, are just like humans. They have agriculture, in that they farm fungus. They have herd animals, in that they protect and exploit aphids. Some ants even use their own young in creating shelters, by utilizing the grubs’ silk threads to weave leaves together. Other ants make war and take slaves. The only thing that ants don’t do that humans do, is watch television. I set up an ant farm, with clear blue gel medium that the ants eat as well as live in, along with a digital camera to track the ants’ movements. On the other side of the farm, in front of the camera, I set up a 2½-inch LCD screen and a hacked mini DVD player. Using tracking software, some specialized hardware, and a laptop, I enabled the ants to control the mini DVD player and screen. Based on the movements of the ants, the little screen would play a clip (video of people having a picnic, a scene that slowly pans a table of desserts, or ants walking around in blue gel medium), pause the clip, or go back to the menu to select another clip. The work, and Thomas’ essay, tried to illustrate how pervasive our human mindset is. We need to anthropomorphize everything, in order to create the first steps in understanding. This project, illustrates in a facetious way, how pervasive the human mindset is and the absurdity of these types of analogies. Unfortunately, analogies like these are taken as fact, not as the descriptions or scenarios they are meant to be. Instead, they carry forward misunderstanding, creating misconceptions surrounding our world and our place in it.