Sensorial Skin for a Guerilla Beehive is a bio-art installation which provides viewers with an artistic experience of our research related to the disappearance of the honeybees. This is a project on the edge of art and science, focusing on issues of sustainability and biodiversity.
In many industrialised nations, bee colonies are now threatened. Amongst the reasons are pesticides and parasites – but the compromised state of the foraging areas for bees is just as worrisome. Bees are bio-indicators and they reflect the health of their surrounding ecosystem and the cumulative effects of different pollutants.
The Sensorial Skin for a Guerilla Beehive-research goals are twofold: 1. Investigate via the skin-interface of a custom designed beehive –and visualized by bacteria- whether we can get advance warnings of environmental pollution, and 2. offer an ecological and sustainable shelter to swarming bee colonies in urban regio’s.
The design of the Guerilla Beehive is a combination of digital fabrication and traditional craftmanship. It deploys open source materials science techniques and is constructed out of smart materials with functionalities inspired by nature.
The specific qualities of the Sensorial Skin are the result of a collaboration of multiple bacteria and fungi. Some of them are synthetically modified to enhance their role as environmental guardians.
description of the work
The Guerilla Beehive is an object grown from organic materials (bacterial cellulose skin – a symbiotic growth of Acetobacter xylinum bacteria and yeast cells), and augmented with 3D printed parts using the organic material Chitin that is forthcoming from the exoskeleton of the bees themselves. It is a radically new beehive designed for urban environments. It offers a shelter to swarming bee colonies, and by this supports pollination by the bees and protects the biodiversity on the foraging fields.
The Sensorial Skin is a sensing device. It is augmented with non-intrusive technology, namely: a biofilm containing synthetically modified bacteria. By their change-of-colour-in-case-of-danger (e.g. pollution or pesticides), these bacteria give advanced warnings on the ecological status of the environment. Thus the skin becomes an interface that sends messages and that monitors the wellbeing of the colony and the foraging fields.
Anne Marie Maes (Be) is an artist and a researcher. Her work incorporates sculpture, photography, video, installation and public participation. Her research practice combines art and science with a strong interest for DIY technologies and digital fabrication. Her installations and long term projects – such as the Transparent Beehive, Urban Corridors or the Politics of Change – use a range of biological, digital and traditional media, including live organisms.
The findings of her research are materialized in techno-organic objects that tell factual/fictional stories; in artifacts that are a combination of digital fabrication and craftsmanship; in installations that reflect both the problem and the (possible) solution, in multispecies collaborations, in polymorphic forms and models created by ecodata.
She is fascinated in the processes by which nature creates form: how bees self-organize into swarms, how plants grow and form geometric patterns, how bacteria and yeast cells collectively create material surfaces forming biofabrics. She observes and analyzes these processes, isolates them or causes them to appear in artificial conditions.
She makes use of technological mediation to search for new forms of communication with the natural world, to make the invisible visible.
Anne Marie Maes is the founding director of the Urban Bee Lab and has for decades been a recognized leader pioneering art-science projects in Belgium, using highly original ways to bring out hidden structures in nature by constructing original technological methods to probe the living world and by translating that in artistic creations through sonification, visualization, sculptures, large-scale long-term installations, workshops, lectures and books.
She has a strong international profile, having exhibited (amongst others) at Bozar in Brussels, Koç University Gallery in Istanbul, Borges Center in Buenos Aires, Bozar in Brussels, Arsenals Museum in Riga, Skolska Gallery in Prague, the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, the Designmuseum in Mons and the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin.
Núria Conde-Pueyo (Es) is a post-doctoral researcher at Complex Systems Laboratory at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) in the PRBB. She holds a major in Biology and a engineering in informatics and performed her research thesis about Biocomputation, that it is at the interface of both fields. Nuria eventually teaches biology for architects, artist and designers of IAAC, Elisava or Massana universities. And is a founder member of the DIYBioBcn, the first biohacking group of Spain.
Anastasia Pistofidou (Gr) is a Greek Architect currently working at Fab Lab Barcelona/IAAC as the Professional Projects Director, specialised in hardware development, rapid prototyping and design to production. With an architecture degree from AUTH Aristotle University, Thessaloniki and a Master Degree from IAAC, (Fabbots 2011) she worked at Fab Lab Barcelona applying digital fabrication technologies to installations, artistic creations, prototyping, architecture, furniture, interiors , exhibitions and products. She developed a personal applied research line on textiles, soft architectures and innovative materials : http://fabtextiles.org. Experimenting with new materials and processes, combining digital fabrication techniques and crafts, her work is demonstrating how new technologies can shift the massive consumption of fast fashion to a customised, personal and local fabrication applied on education and every day life.