The Slime Mould Collective

An international network of/for intelligent organisms

'Being Slime Mould: observation, simulation, enactment'

Coming up in Rotterdam Sept-Jan... 
slimoco exhibits a three part interactive installation 'Being Slime Mould: observation, simulation, enactment', as part of 'BIODESIGN
On the Cross-Pollination of Nature, Science and Creativity' at New Institute, Rotterdam.

more info...

Being Slime Mould: observation / simulation / enactment (2013)


by Slimoco (The Slime Mould Collective)

Heather Barnett, Daniel Grushkin, Jeff Jones, Alex May


Physarum polycephalum, the ‘many headed’ slime mould, has evolved intricate forms of communication and cooperation to locate and share resources. When placed in proximity, individual cells merge to form a mass single cell, working in synchronous harmony.

Used as a model organism in diverse areas of scientific research, the collective super-organism is attributed with primitive intelligence, problem solving skills and the ability to create highly efficient networks. It is also quite beautiful, the dendritic patterns reminiscent of forms seen at varying scales within nature.


In an era of uncertainty, as climate change, industrialisation and our exploding population leave us competing for limited resources, humanity requires new models of cooperation. Through the observation, simulation and enactment of Physarum polycephalum behaviour, Being Slime Mould invites us to learn from this simple yet complex organism via three forms.


Observation: Part of artist Heather Barnett's ‘Physarum Experiments’, these animated time-lapse sequences of living slime mould demonstrate its ability to form networks and navigate territories. Patterns of growth are encouraged via the placement of food and moisture, but cannot be controlled.


Simulation: This live interactive installation invites viewers to become virtual food sources for a computer modeled Physarum plasmodium. As viewers move around the exhibition space, the virtual slime mould responds and adapts to the changing movement, reforming it’s shape constantly form the most efficient network between its ‘sources of food’, the audience. Devised by Heather Barnett and Jeff Jones (computer modeling) with Alex May (interactive programming).


Enactment: Participants in this one-hour performance experiment will simulate the Physarum superstructure, individual bodies becoming a collective super-organism, by latching together and following a few simple rules. The experiment aims to test human abilities for communication and cooperation when behaving like slime mould, and to demonstrate how complex behaviour can emerge without hierarchical order. Devised by Heather Barnett and Daniel Grushkin.

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