Kuai Shen
Ecologias Virales

Raspberry Pi Image Sequencer - Carmen de Apicala, Colombia

Invasion Hormigas Algoritmicas

Arduino, Servo/DC Motors, Photoresistance + Piezoelectric Workshop - Espacio Telefonica Madrid


Hybrid Habitat with digital thermometer/hygrometer - KHM, Cologne

0h!m1gas: artist presentation to children

Kapelica Gallery - Ljubljana, Slovenia

[ant]ibiotica: public workshop on DIY antibiotics

Waag Society, Netherlands
June 2016

Language: English

Participants: Adults interested in working with microorganisms, bacteria and ants

Duration: 4 hours

Keywords: leaf-cutter ants, antibiotics, actinobacteria, streptomyces, pseudonocardia, microorganisms, fungus, parasites

What do humans have in common with ants? We are both eco-engineers, invasive species, masters in controlling natural resources, and we have colonized the whole planet. Yet, the most interesting aspect we share is that we are both hosts of parasites. We both rely on hygiene and disease control in order to protect against parasites, viral pathogens and other diseases. The ant society has over 100 million years evolutionary advantage on the biological control of parasites. Particularly, leaf-cutter ants of the genera Atta and Acromyrmex are farmers and pharmacists. They have confronted and solved problems which might seem analogous to the public-health challenges modern medicine is facing regarding the control of antibiotic resistance… and have succeeded by means of cooperation with exotic and colorful microorganisms. Kuai Shen will introduce his leaf-cutter ant colony and reveal their complex life and the mutualisms hidden in their fungi-cultural garden. We will learn how to interact with ants and how they have become models for science and technology, as well as inspiration for artistic practices. You will search for antibiotic producing bacteria in different parts of the ant colony and offer a sample of their own sweat and/or saliva to analyze and identify potential partnerships between ant and human microbiota. We will then try to isolate and incubate these on petri dishes to create a living observatory which will host a diverse collection of different microorganisms from human and ant kind coexisting together. You will be allowed to take home the samples they produce in order to create a time-lapse photographic documentation of this experimental antibiotic micro-ecology. The results will be shared later on a third installment of the workshop.

Insect Mediated Technologies: biomimicry in the machine

Cologne International School of Design, Germany
April-June 2016

Language: English

Participants: Master/Bachelor students of Design

Duration: 6 sessions @ 4 hours each session

Keywords: insects, parasites, virus, digital contagions, de-generative algorithms, biomimicry

Audio-visual experimentation with insects, micro-controllers, electronic sensors and signal amplifiers based on the concept of the social contagion, a theory introduced by French sociologist Gabriel Tarde.

The relationship between human technology and biological organisms plays an important role in the creation of new ecosystems and the transformations of old ones. It is essential to investigate these multi-scalar relationships which have the power to affect not only natural and technological environments, but virtual social systems where human and nonhuman can mutually coexist.

The workshop will debate if the concept of biomimicry/contagion/virality serves indeed as a model to design sonic and mechanical artefacts that imitate insects. Can this statement be applied to cultural perceptions as well as technological manifestations, in an age where the development of new technologies and the so called new media is surpassing the singularity of time by stressing the optimization and efficiency of algorithms, wearables, and measurement devices?

The Sound of Ants

Diskurs Gallery Berlin, Germany
July 2016

Language: English

Participants: Anyone, no age restrictions/p>

Duration: 4 hours

Keywords: leaf-cutter ants, stridulation, acoustic vibrations, piezoelectricity, electronics, interspecies interaction

Stridulation in ants is an amplification process that can be approached as a modulation of signals in the self-organization of the colony. It is actually a social expression of the individual ant, a recruiting call in the form of acoustic vibration, in order to communicate the need for reinforcements. The stridulatory organ occurs at the point of articulation between the third and fourth segments of the ant’s waist: the plectrum or the scraper lies underneath the posterior region of the third abdominal section, while the pars stridens or ridged file surface is located on the anterior part of the fourth section. During this workshop at DISKURS Berlin, Kuai Shen will show participants how to interact with the leafcutter ant colony Acromyrmex octospinosus, which lives in his biologically-inspired installation "The Inexorable Colonization of the Self" (a collaboration project with Pengyu Huang). Important to say, his emphasis is focused on interspecies interactions; thus, seeing the ants not as insects, but as social partners. Participants will learn how to build their own piezoelectric amplifier using simple analog electronics in order to record/amplify on site the sound of the ants.


Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln, Germany
August 2015

Language: German

Participants: children between 10-12 years old

Duration: 6 days @ 4 hours each day, including city excursion to collect ants

Keywords: ants, basic introduction to myrmecology, formicarium, organic habitat design, ant identification, ant collection, photography

Wir werden heimische und exotische Ameisen der Stadt Kölns suchen, fotografieren und mit Mikrofonen hören! Dabei lernen wir wie sie es geschafft haben so erfolgreich zu sein und lernen auch über ihre Beziehung mit Menschen. Ich bringe euch bei wie man eine Ameisenkolonie züchten und pflegen kann, welche Ameisen freundlich sind und welche böse sind. Wir werden sowohl kleine Ausflüge auf der Suche nach Ameisen um Viertel unternehmen, wie auch im Labor mit Mikroskopen und selbstgebaute Terrarien arbeiten. Ich zeige wie sie ihre Arbeit teilen, Futter finden, ihre Nester bauen und wie sie es geschafft haben, einer der stärksten Organismen auf der Erde zu sein. Wir erkunden die Welt der städtischen Ameisen in Köln und entschlüsseln ihr Geheimnis als vorbildliches Spezies mittels Mini-Spielen, wobei Kinder über biologische Fakten und Fähigkeiten der Ameisen lernen.


Familien- und Jugendhilfe Kaarst, Germany
October 2015

Language: German

Participants: children between 10-16 years old

Duration: 3 days @ 4 hours each day

Keywords: arduino, introduction to electronics, piezos, LEDs, signal amplifiers, oscillators

Sonifikationsprojekt mit Pflanzen, entworfen und geführt von Kuai Shen im Rahmen des "Kunst & Kabel" medienpädagogischen Projekts von jfc Medienzentrum.

Invasion Hormigas Algoritmicas

Espacio Telefónica Madrid, Spain
July 2014

Language: Spanish

Participants: children between 10-14 years old

Duration: 3 days @ 4 hours each day, including city excursion to collect ants

Keywords: ants, arduino, introduction to electronics, electric conductivity, sound, photo-resistance, servo motors, piezoelectricity

Explorar el fascinante mundo de las hormigas y su relación con el ser humano; aprender a identificar y recolectar hormigas urbanas e invasivas de Madrid; descubrir el impacto de las hormigas en la tecnología a través de experimentos con Arduino; aprender acerca de su comportamiento e importancia para el estudio científico. Este taller de 3 días invita a explorar el fascinante mundo de las hormigas y su contribución a la ciencia a través de experimentos divertidos con hormigas que habitan en la ciudad. Iremos en búsqueda de hormigas que invaden la urbe y reconstruiremos algunos experimentos usando algoritmos de visión computacional de libre acceso (Open Source). Descubriremos cómo interactuar con hormigas vivas, cómo tratarlas con respeto y cómo utilizar programas simples para investigar su comportamiento.

Si bien las hormigas se han convertido en una utilidad científica, durante los últimos 70 años muchas hormigas tropicales de Sudamérica han invadido otros continentes gracias al ayuda involuntaria del humano, causando daños ecológicos y desplazando especies nativas. Es así que las hormigas han conquistado nuevos territorios pero al mismo tiempo con el avance de la ciencia hemos descubierto como imitar su comportamiento y aplicarlo para la construcción de robots y mecanismos de navegación inteligentes por medio de sensores y programas audiovisuales.

Ecologias Virales: anarquías inspiradas por hormigas

Universidad Nacional de Bogotá, Colombia
September 2014

Language: Spanish

Participants: Master students of media arts from Universidad Nacional Bogotá

Duration: 1 week including field excursion

Keywords: cybernetics, bioacoustics, naturalism, piezoelectricity, raspberry pi, photography, ant identification, ant collection

Excursión de campo en zona cafetera en Carmén de Apicalá: aprender a identificar especies de hormigas de la tribu Attini y diseñar conceptos para exhibición conjunta utilizando sensores basados en sistemas emergentes sociales.

Ecologias virales se trata en la percepcion de lo social mas alla del ser humano. El origen de este proyecto se basa en formas anarquicas del sistema auto-organizado y emergente de las hormigas y su corelacion con manifestaciones decentralizadas en el ser humano. Lo viral ha adquirido un estigma negativo en nuestra psiquis. Sin embargo, aquello que se vuelve virulento genera conflicto así como oportunidades para la cooperación. El termino "viral" hoy en dia esta vinculado a virtualidades que se transmiten y alcanzan una masa critica a través de internet, en las redes sociales. Por lo tanto esos fenómenos digitales pueden ser comparados con la fuerza colectiva de organizacion y transmisión de señales biologicas en las hormigas. Lo viral es algo que se contagia, que es capaz de establecer canales de influencia y convencimiento entre individuos para crecer y conformar algo mas grande, creando resistencias, convenciendo al próximo y generando imitaciones. Lo viral es parte de un sistema de comunicacion social, el parasito como Michel Serres lo describe es parte imtegra del circulo social, está en todos lado, su inclusión y perturbaciones sons necesarias para catalisar relaciones, para crear, foratalecerse, para siempre esta en movimiento.