[ISEA2011] Paper: Gavin Sade – Suzumushi: a silent future


This artist paper discusses the conceptual, aesthetic and technical aspects of the work Suzumushi: the silent swarm, which is proposed for inclusion in ISEA2011. (See art proposal.)  The paper provides an outline of the creative work and draws together the range of ideas that influenced the works form, the conceptual material and interaction design.  These influences include acoustic ecology, emergence, synchronicity and spontaneous order, as well as memes and network theory.  The work also continues the artists’ interest in the relationship between human society and the natural world, and specifically other species.

In Suzumushi these concepts are embodied in a swarm of stylized crickets constructed from stainless steel, plastic and electronics. The crickets in this work are hypothetical creatures that have evolved to survive in a noisy human environment.  This speculative species replaces auditory calls with onomatopoeia cricket calls and memes drawn from selected real time data sources. This content is displayed on small LCD screens within each cricket. The crickets use radio frequency chirps to communicate these memes with other crickets forming an unorganized social network, from which emerges patterns of synchronicity out of noise.

The paper also provides an insight into the artists approach to practice led research, considering the relationship between creative activity of the hand and the associated thinking. Through the practice of creating Suzumushi the combination of practice and thinking about practice raised critical questions about both practice and the conceptual material explored in the work.  As a result this artist paper is to be presented along side the creative work, acting as a form of exposition of and counter point to Suzumushi, the silent swarm.

  • Gavin Sade is a designer in the field of interactive computational media, with a background in music and sonology. He formed the group Kuuki with Priscilla Bracks in 2005. In addition to his work with Kuuki, Gavin also teaches interaction design at the Queensland University of Technology. Kuuki is an art, design, and media production collective directed by Gavin Sade and Priscilla Bracks. Work produced by Kuuki explores contemporary life, interpersonal relationships, and humanity’s relationship with the environment and other non-human species. This work arises from ‘post-environmental’ politics in that it considers the cultural and anthropocentric construction of nature that inhibits our ability to develop deeper relationships with ‘nature’ and take meaningful steps towards protecting it.   kuuki.com.au Video: Suzumushi: The Silent Swarm

Full text (PDF) p. 2104-2108