This installation is comprised of augmented kinetic sculpture that serves as the dynamic foraging area for a colony of between fifty and one hundred thousand Atta (aka leafcutter) ants. Our research of this species led us to the wide range of applications of their impressive foraging schemes, specifically in the world of finance. We model a behavior that optimizes collaboration and cooperation towards the good of the colony is modeled in order to predict market tendencies, bankruptcies, and other forms of investment that promote personal interests.
The sculpture allows the colony access to selected pairs of true or faux food sources with poetic significance: the colony must choose between a plentiful source of fresh leaves that don’t smell quite right (eucalyptus, a natural deterrent), or only a few seductive rose pestles what will dry quickly and provide little nutrition; or between pieces of thin plastic with an attractive texture, and a pocket world atlas with colorful pages and the smell of orange extract. In every case, the ants optimize the seemingly difficult decision and do what is best for the community; the process is rapid, theatrical and in the case of this works highly visible.