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Rotational Rider: Where Do the Ants Go? at Dhaka Arts Summit

The Queen will awake in 5 seconds. still from Afrah Shafiq’s “Where Do the Ants Go?” video installation at Dhaka Art Summit, image courtesy the artist.

Where do the Ants Go? is an immersive video game installation created as part of the “Rotational Rider” project under the “To-gather” international collaboration. In this interactive sculpture of an ant hill created by Afrah Shafiq with Jeremy Waterfield, the behaviours and outcomes of the colony are determined by those present within it.

WHERE DO THE ANTS GO?Audiences can enter a large-scale sculpture of an anthill to interact with a digital colony of programmed ants that live within it. Using real time inputs the “players” within the anthill make choices that affect the behaviour of the individual ants and the collective outcome of the colony. The anthill has been designed by artist Afrah Shafiq with architect Jeremy Waterfield over three months of conversations, sharing and play. It is imagined as a real life rendering from the game Minecraft, using the logic of voxels; while the ant colony set within it translates ant behaviours from the natural world into algorithms and data sets. As more and more of human existence continues to play out in the virtual space where conversation is mediated by seemingly invisible algorithms, the installation provides for a meeting ground between the physical and digital, the algorithm and consciousness, the virtual and the natural and offers a space to step back, observe patterns and perhaps even re-set.The work is showing for the first time at the Dhaka Art Summit where the character of a Queen Ant within the colony speaks in Bengali, and computes a set of responses expressed via a data collection exercise in Bangladesh in the lead-up to the summit.


Rotational Rider: Where Do the Ants Go? came out of a To-Gather collaboration grant. See all “To-gather” International Collaboration supported projects here.