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Ant Möbius Playground

Picture of Ant Möbius Playground
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For some reason people typically explain how Möbius strips function with the example of ants walking on them. 

e.g. from Wikipedia: "If an ant were to crawl along the length of this strip, it would return to its starting point having traversed the entire length of the strip (on both sides of the original paper) without ever crossing an edge."

Well, why leave this as simply a thought experiment? You can test it out for yourself and at the same time supply your pet ants with a weird engaging surface to play on!

Technology can place creatures into non-natural contexts to highlight certain behaviors. The super cool myrmecologist, Deborah Gordon in “one of [her] favorite experiments...varied the density of ants in a place where they had no edge to prefer- on a sphere." She covered "a soccer ball with a nylon stocking, to give the ants some traction, and hung it from the ceiling by a wire that the ants
could not climb." This let her examine the clustering tendency of ants without the effects of walls (which they also like to cluster against). (From her book, Ant Encounters).

This project is quite a bit less rational and goal-oriented, but who knows, through critically engaged making you could build all sorts of tacit knowledge about the world and behavioral systems, which could prime you to make discoveries of your own. This comes from an assignment in our project studio at the Digital World and Image Group.

The goal of this craft is to create a hanging Moebius strip for live ants to crawl upon. It is inspired by the escher drawings of ants on Moebius strips, and also the Moebius strip’s archetypal description that “If an ant were to crawl along the length of this strip, it would return to its starting point having traversed every part of the strip (on both sides of the original paper) without ever crossing an edge.”

We are going to make a primarily sculptural/aesthetic device to hang over our boxes of ant nests. We should be able to load ants onto the strips and watch them wander around in endless crazy loops. To keep with the current aestethic of our ant containers, the strips will be forged from transparent acrylic. The primary crafting experience in this project comes from building the tacit knowledge of turning and manipulating hot molten acrylic.

 
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