[ISEA2011] Paper: Andrew Burrell & Trish Adams – Urban Ecologies: “In the City of the Apis Queen”


The locative media project: “In the City of the Apis Queen” is discussed here within the framework of urban ecologies. The artists describe how, through an innovative, futuristic quasi-gaming model, they have compared relationships between individuals in an urban social context and the behaviours of a community of European honey bees. During the project a futuristic socio-cultural narrative text is developed; combining such diverse disciplines as: visual arts, new media practice, literature, computer science and the biological sciences. This paper outlines the artist’s interdisciplinary concerns and the ways in which this approach lends itself to flexible, hybrid practices.

The project’s overall focus on open-ended, interdisciplinary methodologies that fully explore the creative potentials of hybrid media art are examined here in conjunction with the role played by the artist’s observations of honey bee behaviours. The development of the creative structures underlying participant experiences that encompass both ecological and socio-cultural narrative structures in the contemporary urban context are defined. The artists also expand upon their aim to generate a networked project consciousness that grows out of the recorded “energies” of participant engagement and evolves to resemble a “hive-mind-whole” artwork system.

The functions of programmed technologies that generate the artwork system are detailed; in particular that of the custom-made wearable devices that are fundamental to the work. The artists demonstrate how these components self organise into a local network and communicate with each other in real time through a digitally programmed system of web portals aimed at mobile browsers and the immersion of participants. Illustrated examples from the project demonstrate how participants navigate through this open-ended system to experience the unique presentation of the work’s literary, creative narrative and, through their participation, build new aspects of this narrative.

  • Dr. Andrew Burrell is a Sydney, AU, based hybrid-media artist working in the realm of real time 3d, interactive installation and networked environments. He is exploring notions of self and narrative and the implications of virtual worlds and artificial life systems upon an individual’s sense of identity and creating fanciful structures that investigate new possibilities for a post-human self, and narrative constructs in which to contain them. andrewburrell.net   Video: temporary self portrait
  • Patricia Adams is cur­rently a Post­doc­toral Re­search Fel­low, RMIT Uni­ver­sity School of Art, Mel­bourne, AU, and a vis­it­ing artist at the Vi­sual & Sen­sory Neu­ro­science Group, Queens­land Brain In­sti­tute, The Uni­ver­sity of Queens­land. She has worked at the art/sci­ence nexus for over ten years and her doc­toral re­search pro­ject in­volved a cross-dis­ci­pli­nary col­lab­o­ra­tion with a bio­med­ical sci­en­tist dur­ing which she ex­plored the im­pact of ex­per­i­men­tal tech­niques in bio­med­ical en­gi­neer­ing on ex­pres­sions of cor­po­re­al­ity. In ad­di­tion to her art­works Trish has pre­sented her re­search out­comes through pub­li­ca­tions and at con­fer­ences such as: New Con­stel­la­tions: Art, Sci­ence & So­ci­ety, Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art, Syd­ney, 2006; Perth Dig­i­tal Art & Cul­ture Con­fer­ence, 2007; ISEA2008 Singapore,  Eye of the Storm, Tate Britain, 2009 and ISEA2011.

Full text (PDF) p. 26-28