Crowd Control / Gallery Residency / Heather Barnett

29 Jun 2017 – 23 Jul 2017

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arebyte Gallery

England, United Kingdom

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Interdisciplinary arts project Crowd Control explores collective behaviour in Hackney Wick

arebyte announces Crowd Control, a month long interdisciplinary experiment creatively exploring the collective interactions between individuals, groups and their environments.


By connecting visual, digital and performance art practices with contemporary scientific research and urban design, Crowd Control will explore human communication, cooperation and collective intelligence in Hackney Wick, East London.


Running at arebyte from 29 June until 23 July, the project is a collaboration between artist Heather Barnett, curator Nimrod Vardi and behavioural scientists Dr Andrew King and Dr Ines Fürtbauer, joined by specialists in performance, sound, law and urban design.

The team will create experiences, experiments and interventions that explore how groups move together, transfer information, make decisions and respond to changing environmental conditions. As well as being enjoyable, the games, activities and participatory events will collect data and imagery, which will in turn feed into the development of artworks.

Focusing on creative engagement, Heather and the team will work directly with local groups, exploring unspoken communication systems and motion dynamics, hosting mass participation exercises and observing the language of gesture on the streets of Hackney Wick.

Taking inspiration from the collective dynamics of nonhuman groups, such as shoaling fish and flocking birds, the complex patterns of human behaviour will be investigated in imaginative and inquisitive ways. The residency will culminate in a public Crowd Control Festival (21-23 July), a weekend of exhibitions, experiments and spontaneous happenings at a range of venues and sites throughout Hackney Wick.

The team welcomes collaboration and participation from local groups, residents and venues. There will also be open participation events inviting people who are curious about how group dynamics operate to creatively explore the art and science of crowd behaviour.

 Crowd Control Collaborators

Heather Barnett’s art practice engages with natural phenomena, complex systems and biological design. Working with live organisms and imaging technologies, her work explores how we observe, influence and understand the world around us. Projects include microbial portraiture, cellular wallpapers, performing cuttlefish, and an ongoing ‘collaboration’ with an intelligent slime mould, Physarum polycephalum. She teaches on the MA Art and Science at Central Saint Martins (University of the Arts London) and chairs London LASER art and science talks. She is currently a Leverhulme Artist in Residence with Swansea University – see below). www.heatherbarnett.co.uk

Dr Andrew King is an Associate Professor and Behavioural Ecologist at Swansea University conducting research in the field of social behaviour. His research group SHOAL (www.shoalgroup.org) works with a variety of group-living fish, bird, and mammal systems, and is most well-known for his work investigating the evolution and ecology of leadership.

Dr Ines Fürtbauer is a Senior Lecturer and Behavioural Endocrinologist at Swansea conducting research from a comparative and evolutionary perspective. Her research team rely on behavioural observations in the field and laboratory and the application of non-invasive hormone analysis techniques to understand variation in behaviour and physiology www.ines.fuertbauer.com.

Other members of the research group will join the project, including Amanda Fry, Daniel Strombom, and Dimitra Georgopoulou.

Joining the team of researchers and practitioners are: Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos (law and spatial justice); Anna Piva (sonic art); Liu Yang (urban design: agent based modelling); Josh Greenfield (urban design: swarm systems); Annarita Papeschi (urban design: crowdsourcing); Emma Ribbing (choreography); Jamie Harper (theatre); Kira Wainstein (project assistant).

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