Hybrid Encounters. Art meets Science – Art, biology and algorithms

The artist Tomás Saraceno invites experts from the fields of robotics and biology to join him in a discussion.

25th of May 2018, 7-9 pm
UdK-Konzertsaal, Hardenbergstr. 33, 10623 Berlin (U-Bahn Zoologischer Garten)
Musical performance & talk. Free Admission.

Talks are given in English language.

With “Hybrid Encounters”, the Hybrid Plattform – an initiative by the TU Berlin and UdK Berlin – and the Schering Foundation have created an event series that facilitates dialogue between the realms of art and science. Exceptional international guests from the worlds of art and science will be given a free hand in organizing each event, inviting important figures who are active as artists or researchers. For the second event in the series the Argentinean artist Tomás Saraceno has invited experts from the fields of bionics, biorobotics and biology to a discussion. The dialogue will be complemented by a so-called “Arachnid Jam Session” in which the musician David Rothenberg will perform with a spider.

Tomás Saraceno will speak with Prof. Ingo Rechenberg, Technische Universität Berlin, a co-creator of evolutionary-biological algorithms in the engineering sciences; Professor Tim Landgraf, head of the BioRobotics Lab of the Freie Universität Berlin; and Alex Jordan, PhD and head of the research group Mechanisms and Evolutionary Ecology of Social Interaction at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Konstanz.

In the course of the conversation the limitations of and points of intersection between nature and culture will be examined. Tomás Saraceno is interested in the question as to whether and how artificial intelligence and machine learning will in the future render differentiations in nature and culture obsolete. What consequences will the intersection of computer technology and biology have? Will it open up new possibilities for interspecies communication?

On this evening the musician David Rothenberg’s “Arachnid Jam Session” with a spider in its web will make it possible for guests to experience a fascinating form of interspecies communication beyond traditional boundaries by means of music.

Tomás Saraceno is among the most well-known international contemporary artists. His work often involves close collaboration with scientists. In his studio he maintains a so-called “Spider Lab”, which has allowed him to put together the world's largest archive of spider webs. For years the artist has explored the construction of webs by social and quasi-social spider species. For some time he has also been studying the communication mechanisms of spiders. Since he began working as an artist Saraceno has developed a method that defies traditional boundaries. His works have been exhibited all over the world, including at the Venice Biennale, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. In the fall a solo exhibition of his works will open at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.

Ingo Rechenberg is professor emeritus for bionics and evolutionary technology at the TU Berlin. He is co-creator of evolutionary-biological algorithms in the engineering sciences and studies the movement strategies of animals under extreme conditions. Research trips take him regularly to the Sahara, where in 2006 he discovered a spiders species that moves by rolling. He is currently constructing a robot that imitates this movement strategy.

Tim Landgraf is professor for biorobotics and collective intelligence at the FU Berlin and head of the BioRobotics Lab at the Dahlem Center for Machine Learning and Robotics. He researches how the collective intelligence of social insects – for example in the cooperative construction of structures or the common search for food – can be utilized in artificial intelligence systems. As part of his research Tim Landgraf has developed a robot that can communicate with bees, thus making it possible to locate individual bees in a swarm.

Alex Jordan is head of a research group in the Collective Behaviour department of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and the University of Konstanz. He researches how social and sexual behaviour has evolved. He works with fish, insects and spiders and observes the effect of social hierarchies on the behaviour of the collective. The flow of information between social groups, the origins of specific behavioural patterns of species and the neurological basis of deviant forms of action are focuses of his research work. David Rothenberg is a musician, composer and professor of philosophy and music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. For quite some time he has been interested in the musical quality of animal sounds and has been composing pieces in collaboration with animals. Studies of the twittering of birds, whale songs and the chirping of grasshoppers and singing of cicadas form the basis of his most well-known books and musical productions.

Organisers: The format »Hybrid Encounters« are organized and realized by Hybrid Plattform – a project platform of the Berlin University of the Arts and the Technische Universität Berlin – and Schering Stiftung.