Kuai Shen is a naturalist and media artist who has been loving and studying ants for over 16 years. His hybrid installations explore the interspecies relationships in the natural/artificial continuum, inspired on one hand by the emergence and self-organization of ants, and on the other, by the subjective intertwining of parasites, microorganisms and viruses in relation to mimicry, affects, and the forces of becoming.
“Nature creates similarities. One needs only to think of mimicry. The highest capacity for producing similarities, however, is that of humans. His gift of seeing resemblances is nothing other than a rudiment of the powerful compulsion in former times to become and behave like something else. Perhaps there is none of his higher functions in which his mimetic faculty does not play a decisive role.”
– Walter Benjamin
Kuai Shen’s artistic practice reflects on the materialization and perception of singularities of the self-organized non-human techno-ecologies that are invisible and silent to us, yet can be visualized and amplified by the use of open hardware / software / wetware and by the tinkering of DIY-artefacts; thus revealing certain mutualisms within the natural host / guest relationships and manifesting cooperation between artefacts and organisms. Kuai’s research focuses on the bioacoustics of insects and the relationship of ant mimicry to human technology, based on social resilience and imitation-contagion phenomena.
In 2013 his work 0h!m1gas received an honorary mention in hybrid art at Prix Ars Electronica and was awarded the Edith-Russ-Haus Medienkunstpreis. In 2014 he received the Cynetart Förderpreis der Sächsischen Staatsministerin for the work Playing with ants and other insects, and in 2016 he won the Bridge Art and Science Stipend at Michigan State University for his work [ant]ibiotica.
During his Prague residency he plans to work on a new project / performance based on the potential relation of swarm-based acoustics with bioacoustic city glitches, exploring stochastic generation and bottom-up granular processing by amplifying the sounds of urban insects and the drones of city life. The results of the project will premiere during the Soundworms Ecology Gathering at Mariánské Radčice in September.