Art. Nature. Technology: Discover the Unexpected
Astonishing and unexpected discoveries can arise from interactions of art, nature, and technology. Inventors throughout the history discovered the world’s breakthroughs using their imagination and vision about the interactions of art, nature, and technology. In addition, many of the most fascinating technologies are inspired by behaviors in Nature, including one of my favorites which is the phenomenon of EMERGENCE found in nature, like in Ant Colonies. The idea of emergence has been known since the era of Aristotle; 2+2 > 4 when it comes to interactions and emergence. With an open mindset, through combining art, nature, technology, capital, and policy we can face any grand challenge.
The idea of each person having a distinct expertise, being a scientist, a mathematician, a doctor, or an artist has not been the case throughout history. In fact, during the Italian Renaissance era most philosophers acquired multi-disciplinary skills; they learned to be painters, sculptors, architects, musicians, mathematicians, engineers, inventors, anatomists, geologists, and writers. One of my favorite is Leonardo Da Vinci from the late 1400’s.
Did you know some of Da Vinci’s inventions, ideas, and designs include bicycle, scuba gear, a Robotic Knight, a self-propelled cart similar to the car, and a flying machine were inspired by birds?
“In order to arrive at knowledge of the motions of birds in the air, it is first necessary to acquire knowledge of the winds which we will prove by the motions of water in itself, and this knowledge will be a step enabling us to arrive at the knowledge of beings that fly between the air and the wind.” (Leonardo Da Vinci)
As far back as I can remember, I had a strong sense for details and behaviors in nature. When surfing I noticed sea birds in the water that appeared sick, when hiking I noticed snakes hiding under the bushes. When sitting in the car passing through mountains, I observed the patterns in the tree trunks and leaves and noticed hawks sitting on trees, those patterns later turned out to become parts of my doodles and drawings. As I studied Computer Science, I learned the concept of emergence in Systems Theory, where complex entities and properties arise through interactions among simpler entities that themselves do not exhibit such properties.
Have you ever encountered a trail of ants in your home? Every time you try to remove them, after a while the trail comes back in the same location.
Emergence is a well-known phenomenon found in nature as evidenced by the Ant Colonies. One ant by its own is simple and unable to perform complex tasks. When groups of ants, 50, 100, 1000 ants are together, astonishing and complex behaviors emerge. For example if they have a trail from their home to a food source and the trail is broken, at first they are lost, after a few seconds, they find the shortest path to home or food and re-form their trails. There is unlimited potential for applications of this concept in our lives and for solving big problems once technology can replicate the concept of emergence. Imagine swarms of small robots that can walk through a field for wildlife monitoring. Just imagine how problems that seem unsolvable could be solved once the technology is mature enough to develop a system as intelligent as the ant colony.
I also used Emergence as an inspiration for some of my paintings. By using many tiny dots inside shapes, I create complex and unexpected patterns.
This is just one example of a behavior found in nature that can be used to develop technologies that transform the world and inspire artists for their next art project. Possibilities are endless with interaction of art, nature, and technology!