An interaction

"Running next to the main screen is a second one which contains a warped bug ridden variation. Anything in the first film that is red or green is duplicated in the second and then implodes into a swarming patch of ants which seem to have some purpose or mission to destroy their source. As each wave of ants fades away new ones are started by new bursts of colour from the main film. Some images are retained way past their time but most are quickly chewed away in readiness for the next batch."



Its Alive! has been developing over the course of an artist residency at Exploding Cinema, which run open access underground film events each month. Genetic Moo has shown films with Exploding Cinema for many years and now as resident artists we provide interactive video installations too. The initial idea was to use the light from other people's films to feed some kind of carnivorous swarming projected monster, using ant colony type algorithms.

This piece, developing month by month, has seen at least 5 variations. In the early days red and green ants chased pheremone trails around the film images. Currently an interactive version sees the users drilling into the image surface with powerful torchlight to reveal a writhing bed of maggots below.


Technical description

Hardware · Independent film source, laptop, webcam

Software · Processing, OpenFrameworks

Projection surface · wall or ceiling

Nature of interaction · ambient light or torch driven

Our webcam points at the Exploding Cinema screen providing an ever changing source of pixel information which we use as a kind of food source for our expanded screen. The different coloured food attracts different coloured ants which in turn leave their own pheremone trails to encourage colony like activity. This is then projected alongside the original source screen. In some variations the ants will build a nest structure over the course of an evening. In other versions the ants are more like fireworks streaming across the screen. Each time we show the piece we try out different ideas. Always we are looking to add to Exploding Cinemas array of spectacular lighting effects.

Its Alive! (and other works in progress) are documented in more detail on our research blog. There you can find each of the variations and some explanation of the coding.