05 August 2009
mellifera - a mixed reality project by Andrew Burrell and Trish Adams
mellifera is an on-line interactive environment in Second Life, linked to a complementary series of real-time exhibitions in gallery and museum spaces.
For this innovative, ecologically sensitive project, artists Trish Adams and Andrew Burrell have worked closely with the Queensland Brain Institute, where scientists are investigating cognition, navigation and communications in the honey bee. The artists’ poetic and scientific engagement with the bees has inspired them to develop experimental interfaces for virtual and real-world interactivity.
Adams and Burrell are interested in the development and exploration of artificial life within computer simulations, and the long term impact that these developing areas of technology will have on an individual’s sense of self and identity. The intricate social structure of European Honey Bees (Apis mellifera) means they are ideal subjects, as the artists question the functioning of networked and social structures. The plight of real bee colonies globally is also a concern for this artwork. The mellifera Second Life environment appears at first to be a pastoral paradise, however the landscape changes in response to the attention of ecologically aware avatars.
mellifera part 1 - virtual bees were released into their Second Life environment for the first stage of the mellifera project. The launch took place in April 2009 at Gaffa gallery, Sydney, and since then the bees are investigating their surroundings and engaging with visiting avatars.
mellifera part 2 - the final project launches in August 2009 at 'the block', in the Creative Industries Precinct, at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane. This exhibition will present interactive interfaces between the gallery and virtual spaces. In the gallery your physical position, touch and breath may attract or repel the virtual life-forms, and your actions will have complex effects upon the ecological vitality of the system.
mellifera has been supported by Australia Council for the Arts through the Inter-Arts MMUVE it! initiative.
The Australia Council supports artists at the forefront of the new creative practices in virtual worlds. In 2007 the Inter-Arts Office supported the Babelswarm project as part of a Second Life artist residency program. For this project visual artist Christopher Dodds, writer Justin Clemens and sound artist Adam Nash develop an in-world sculpture grown from the conversion of words spoken both by gallery visitors and by avatars. In 2009 the Inter-Arts Office supports the Australian Centre for Virtual Arts to initiate the ACVA LAB for cross-disciplinary experimentation in the virtual domain.
Image credits: mellifera, Andrew Burrell and Trish Adams, 2009, recorded from Second Life interactive ecosystem.