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'The Algorithm in the Forest' by Owl Project

Updated 28th November 2019

Simon Blackmore, Antony Hall and Steve Symons, the collaborative group of artists known as Owl Project, have been exploring the forest floor, lifting up logs and looking under stones to film ants going about their business in Fineshade Wood. Using cameras and software to visualize the routes taken by these creatures to allow for what seems like chaos to be rendered as pattern.

The resulting new work, The Algorithm in the Forest, is a multichannel video and sound installation that explores how natural systems have inspired algorithms that impact how we experience our daily lives.

Computer Science has a history of mimicking and simulating nature but not all algorithms need to be encoded in a computer – we are surrounded by naturally occurring algorithms. Nature knows nothing of bits, bytes, JAVA or C++ but expresses itself through things like hormones, pheromones and DNA. Ants use pheromones to regulate colony activities, lay down routes to resources and to plot effective pathways around obstacles. Simulation of this process has been instrumental in developing ways of optimising human deliveries.

The installation also features work made with pupils from Newton Road School and with members of the public.

The Algorithm in the Forest is inside The Arches, located at the main visitor centre, open daily from 10:00am – 4:00pm.

Drop in at The Arches or contact james@fermynwoods.org for more information.

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