A Selfless Society

Julie Freeman

Marcin Ignac

United Kingdom
Web-Based Award
A Selfless Society by Julie Freeman with Marcin Ignac

A Selfless Society is an abstract animation of forms whose shape and behaviour are influenced by the activity patterns of a naked mole-rat colony. The work is inspired by the cooperative lifestyle of the animals, and their altruistic nature that puts the group before the individual. Naked mole-rats are ‘eusocial’ like bees, only the queen breeds. Working together as a whole the colony has the strongest chance of success, while lone individuals have little chance of survival. What would happen if human society were restructured in this way? Would non-breeding females be considered selfish or selfless? How would political, economic and other systems be re-routed to serve the interests of the whole? What would become of the individual?

The contemplative work uses live data from a naked mole-rat to create a dynamic online animation and sound work. The audience can turn and tilt the seemingly 2D animation to get alternative perspectives on the animation. It is available on-line and on Android and iOS devices via an app.

http://rat.systems/selfless-society

A Selfless Society by Julie Freeman with Marcin Ignac
A Selfless Society by Julie Freeman with Marcin Ignac
A Selfless Society by Julie Freeman with Marcin Ignac
A Selfless Society by Julie Freeman with Marcin Ignac
A Selfless Society by Julie Freeman with Marcin Ignac

The animation and sound engine is made with JavaScript & WebGL using PEX library (http://pex.gl) with custom shaders and animation physics. The work communicates with a NodeJS server which accesses and processes real-time animal data from a database on a Linux box running an NGINX webserver. The software has all been originally coded for this work.

The real-time data collection is a custom hardware and software RFID system built specifically to monitor a colony of naked mole-rats at Queen Mary University of London. Working in Dr Chris Faulkes' lab, the system was set up to create a stream of data for use as an art material and to collate a unique set of data for behaviour analysis of the animals. More information about the umbrella project can be found at http://rat.systems