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The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation is pleased to present Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau’s 2016 digital artwork People on the Fly in its U.S. debut at Art House in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In this interactive installation, People on the Fly attracts a virtual swarm of houseflies to a visitor’s captured image using the artists’ custom swarming algorithm. With this algorithm, only bodies in motion will invite the flies.

Insect swarms provide artificial-intelligence researchers with models for understanding how lifeforms make decisions on a particle level, as a swarm thinks cooperatively, without a dominant leader. In this way, a swarm communicates through networked intelligence, a theory called emergence. Software algorithms designed to simulate biological systems can learn from swarm behavior, producing digital data that, in turn, may implicate genetics, social order, and creativity.

Pioneering digital artists Christa Sommerer (born in Ohlsdorf/Gmunden, Austria, 1967; lives in Linz, Austria) and Laurent Mignonneau (born in Angouleme, France 1964; lives in Linz, Austria) are renowned for their custom coded interactive artworks. Since 1992 they have collaborated on artworks that have helped shape the field of digital art, especially at the intersection of biology and technology.

As professors at the University of Art and Design in Linz, Austria, they publish scholarly essays about the “living algorithms” embedded in human, plant, and insect bodies. Their artworks, as interactive simulations, propose that living systems blossom when they come into contact with each other. Further information about the artists can be found on their website.

Image: Laurent Mignonneau and Christa Sommerer, People on the Fly, 2016, interactive digital animation with camera, custom software, computer, and projector.

Thoma Foundation

231 Delgado St.

Santa Fe, NM 87501



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