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Designer choreographs ant ballet at the Pestival

Produced by Ollie Palmer, the Ant Ballet is a 2-year investigation into the parallels between human and ant communication which culminated in the world’s first ballet to exclusively feature ants. It is currently in Phase I of IV.

Using synthesized pheromones (Z9:16Ald Hexadecanol) and highly invasive Linepthinema humile Argentine ants, a robotic arm lays pheromone powder trails that cause the ants to behave in a different way to their usual foraging. Performances in late 2012 will feature mass colony movement testing, and the first intercontinental ant ballet.

The machine is part of a larger study of paranoia, control systems, insects and architecture.

The Ant Ballet will be installed in ZSL London Zoo’s BUGS zone with simulated ants until June 2012, and at FutureEverything festival in Manchester from the 16th – 19th May. The first live Ant Ballet performance will take place as part of Pestival in Sao Paulo later in the year.



Pestival aims to initiate a cultural shift in the way people think, moving them towards a more integrated way of looking at the natural world. Pestival’s lasting legacy is to forge new working relationships between disciplines, communities and species. Pestival says “Insectes Sans Frontières”.

Pestival believes insects are critical to human life on Earth. With over a million insect species, they are the most diverse group of animals on Earth. And yet insects are frequently misunderstood, reviled or, at best, ignored by the majority of the human population.

Pestival has set out to challenge existing stereotypes about insects and to give them their rightful place, for good and bad (vectors and pollinators), in our collective cultural consciousness.

Via WIRED

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