Intro and Theory
In my research and design, I need to study the behaviors of insects, particularly bees and ants. There are many methods for learning about the actions and procedures of these other forms of life. You can read books and journals
, analyze video footage
, and even perform experiments
. These are all terrific methods, and have their own particular strengths and weaknesses, but one factor that I felt was missing, was the ability to understand the creatures within their own timescale.
Often we build mental models of the interactions whose descriptions elide certain aspects of the total process. For instance, we could say that, given a certain pheromone, a colony of ants will do X, but often these descriptions skim over the tiny interactions which add up to the gestalt behavior, and which may take really long periods of time.
Additionally, an important part of deeply understanding these actions comes from being immersed
in their behaviors. More immersive methods of biological study could help humans analyze the subjects' activities consciously and subconsciously. If one could actually live directly with the ants for an extended period of time, I believe that new understandings would arrive that would not normally be accessible through even very intense short term analysis.
For this reason I have designed the very first stage of what I am dubbing the "Arm-y" Ant farm**. Basically it is an Ant-farm that you can wear DIRECTLY on your arm. The hairs on your arm give you constant feedback as to the minute actions of your colony and provide a good anti-gravity substrate for your friends to climb around in.
Also it's fun! and weird!
(NOTE** I would not recommend actually putting army ants into the device (or any other painful ant). It's just a corny pun people!)