This project investigated the creative possibilities within Biomedia revolving around interaction of bees with each other, their environment, and with humans. More Biomedia projects.
Through the sonic data that was collected from a new startup beehive in our campus community garden, we were able to observe the audible effects that environmental shifts and trauma had on the bees. The audio collected over several days ranged from a loud, vigorous, and active hive on the day that it was moved in, to a soft stifled hum on very cold days.
Our team focused on representing the disruption that humans can cause to a hive through an interactive art piece. We wanted to represent the disparity between a calm undisturbed hive, and an agitated hive. We constructed a faux beehive from repurposed materials and used an IR sensor to allow our audience to manipulate the piece. We represented the graduated scale between the two states through increasing volume, and a shift in color. The IR sensor controlled the color and content of visual being projected into the artificial hive, as well as the volume and distortion of the audio recorded from the living hive itself.
My hive and sensor integration design went through multiple iterations. I wanted the physical design, audio, and visuals to remain as authentic as possible even though we were already creating an abstract digital representation of a very complex collective of organisms. For this reason I kept the shape of the hive simple, and ensured that the audio component of the piece was immediately recognizable as bees.
Our Cycling ’74 Max patch for our visual output utilized a jitter recipe called Scene Warp by Andrew Benson. I modified this jitter recipe and integrated video footage taken with a GoPro in a local garden that simulated a bee’s view approaching flowers. I linked the scale of our color output within the patch, to the data input from the IR sensor. When the sensor is approached, the cool blue color output being projected inside the hive gradually transitions to pinks and warm reds.
We also linked the sensor input to the sound output through increasing volume, echo, and other distortion. This created the impression that the hive would become agitated and angry when a certain threshold was crosses by the “intruder” interacting with the piece. The concept behind using a shift in color was to represent the pheromones that the hive’s queen puts off to trigger the actions of the entire hive.
We incorporated audio collected when the hive was very active into our piece as it created the intensity that we desired when the volume increased. This audio was inconsistent, individual bees could be heard passing right over the microphone which allowed for a very immersive experience when for our final display we fed our sound output through a surround speaker system.