We live on the bones of our ancestors. Many creatures colonize our planet: bees ants, coral, humans. As all these different colonies of species develop and grow they change our landscape. Human technology directly influences the shape of our environment, from the tools we use to the gases our machines breath. Mimicking the behavior and structures of natural systems we are made aware of the rich complexity that makes up the fabric of our living world and the fine balance that exists. There is this emergent quality that occurs in nature, where simple components can interact and create something like an organism or an ecosystem. Our technology is not immune from these emergent qualities.

Colony, 2000, creates a small microcosm on a tabletop. Three robot loader mechanisms take turns scanning the surface of the table; each depositing a separate material based on light and dark contrast. The robots drop biodegradable packing material, dirt/seed mix and paraffin wax. At the end of each cycle the computer automatically waters the table. Throughout the duration of the exhibition landscapes are created, grass grows and is covered and fossilized in wax. The materials are the physical memory of the piece guiding future growth and evidencing a physical history. The duration of this project has varied from 3 to 6 weeks.

Medium: steel, aluminum, stainless steel, programmable microcontrollers, electronics, D.C. motors, submersible pump, water, plastic, paraffin wax, dirt/seed mix and biodegradable packing material.
Dimensions: 9 ft high x 12 ft diameter


Colony, 2001

movie image

Colony, QuickTime Movie


colony tableColony, 2001; detail of robotic crane arm that deposits wax.

colony hopper

Colony, 2001; detail of table with 2 weeks of deposition.