Colloquy of Euglenas

Ongoing project: conceptualization and research phase.

Colloquy of Euglenas

This experiment emerges as a further development of a research on photosensitivity in organisms and devices and their aesthetic appropriations in media art. In my PhD research I have emphasized light sensitive properties of vision, addressing very few attention for non-human subjectivities.

As a direct citation to Gordon Pask’s Colloquy of mobiles (1968), the idea is to develop an hybrid artificial intelligence system connecting remotely three units of Euglena cultures. As unicellular organisms, Euglenas present an unique anatomy—flagella for mobility, internal chloroplasts for photosynthesis, and a gullet (mouth region) for taking in large food particles. Their photosensitive property has been explored in biotinkering and artistic projects in a controllable way, such as by guiding Euglenas as players of classic video game simulations. Colloquy of euglenas aims to investigate serendipitous aesthetic possibilities of both Euglenas’s photosensitivity and mobility, letting their activity as living organisms lead the system.

Once light has been used in natural and man-made devices as both energy and signaling resource, it will be investigated the possibility of emergence of any kind of communication among three Euglena Stations (ES), as if they count on a sort of artificial mechanism of quorum sensing (QS). In biologic systems, QS refers to the ability of a population to detect and to respond to their own population density by gene regulation. Similarly, some social insects use quorum sensing to determine where to nest. This mechanism is useful in computing and robotics as a reference for implementing decision-making processes in decentralized systems that present: (a) a means of assessing the number of other components they interact with and (b) a standard response once a threshold number of components is detected.

Besides the cybernetic background, as bibliographical reference I consider examining closer Bruno Latour’s actor-network theory, which I believe to be a very useful and insightful theoretical framework to feed the investigation.