SurveillAnts: A Bioart Installation by Gal Nissim and Leslie Ruckman

Special Event
Gallery 6:30–8:30pm
  • Regular FREE

For ages, people have watched ants and wondered — appreciating their complexity, weaving them into fables to teach humans about the virtues of diligence, altruism, and resilience. In SurveillAnts, the artists use surveillance technology to observe the movements of a colony of Harvester Ants, visualizing the patterns of an emergent system at work.

An ant colony is a superorganism—a true collective in which each individual is a node acting in accordance with the larger system. A single ant will not survive alone because she is not inclined to. Only the colony produces the behavior needed for survival. Somewhere between the individual and the collective there emerges the will to live.

SurveillAnts is a visual exploration of collective intelligence and the connections that can be drawn between the instincts that guide life at all levels. By elevating the ants above their label as pests, the artists make their subject approachable, enticing participants to take their time observing and reflecting. 

Nissim and Ruckman’s work is motivated by a deep fascination with the natural world and the self-discoveries that occur when life itself is examined through the lens of non-human creatures. While technology is often used to shield us from nature, the artists utilize it to bring people closer to it by creating a channel for communication between the behaviors of living organisms and the viewer. Ultimately, they utilize the digital medium to enhance the feeling of being present.

Learn more about the project here.
Instagram: @surveill.ants


Gal Nissim
is a New York-based, interdisciplinary artist and researcher who bridges art, science, and technology to create interactive work that invites participants to explore the dynamic relationship between nature, culture, and human-made environments.

Nissim's work has been exhibited internationally, at Print Screen Festival (Israel), New York Hall of Science, NYC Media Lab at Columbia University, New York University, NYCxDesign festival at Time Square, and Concordia (Netherlands). She is a recipient of grants and fellowships from the Culture & Animals Foundation, NYFA Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), HaPais Council for the Culture and Arts, Microsoft Design Expo Challenge, Experimental Storytelling research group by NYU and Google, Tisch GSO, and the Weizmann Institute of Science for outstanding young researchers. Currently, She is a fellow at Made by NY Media Center by IFP.

Nissim received her Master’s degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She studied at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design while earning her Bachelor of Science, summa cum laude, in cognitive science and biology in the Special Honors Program from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Website: galnissim.com
Instagram: @gulizula
Facebook: gal.nissim.92

Leslie Ruckman
is a Brooklyn-based designer and researcher exploring the impacts of an increasingly technologically mediated society.

Her work has been shown at Print Screen Festival (Israel), NYCxDesign Festival, New York University, and Harvard Divinity School. She has conducted workshops and talks at the Design for Social Innovation program at SVA, Relating Systems Thinking and Design Conference, and the Global Service Design Conference, among others.

Ruckman has been awarded grants and scholarships from the Microsoft Design Expo Challenge, and NYU’s Tisch School of Art. She received her Master’s degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She also holds a BFA in Industrial Design from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Website: leslieruckman.com
Instagram: @leslie.ruckman
Facebook: @leslie.ruckman
Twitter: @leslie_ruckman

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