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"THE SYMBIOSITY OF CREATION"
© Jarosław Czarnecki (Elvin Flamingo), 2012, Sopot, Poland.
Elvin Flamingo / Atta sexdens (Linnaeus, 1758) / Oecophylla smaragdina (Fabricius, 1775) / Camponotus vagus (Scopoli, 1763)

part 1. Reconstruction of Non-human Culture | part 2. Kingdom of the Shared Quotidian |
part 3. After Humans. The Biocorporation



_VIDEO STATEMENT_ _MAIN TEXT_ _bibliography_ _reviews_ _curator texts_ _self-commentary_ _bio_ _PHOTOGRAPHS_ _abstract_
_Foundation_ _exhibition calendar_ _articles_ _publication_ _Donors_

Concept: © Elvin Flamingo, 2012. | Realization: © Elvin Flamingo / Atta sexdens / Oecophylla smaragdina / Camponotus vagus, 2012-ca.2034, Polska. | photograph: Elvin Flamingo.




The Symbiosity of Creation
Reconstruction of Non-human Culture (currently four interconnected incubators)
Kingdom of the Shared Quotidian (currently one incubator)
After Humans. The Biocorporation (currently one incubator)
and
Subterranean Struggle (six unsuccessful attempts)




The basis of our existence is the quotidian. [...] Busyness is one of the leading categories of presence in the world. It is a manner of existence in the quotidian. [...] Although busyness manifests itself variably, it is the dynamic foundation of the quotidian. One who exists in busyness, takes part in it. This connects us. We are beings that are busy, and this is why we are part of the quotidian. Just like the ant and the dung beetle.

Jolanta Brach-Czaina, Szczeliny istnienia (Slits of Existence)

1. Introduction

The concept was to create a “film”, about which no viewer leaving the “cinema” could say, “That was a great film, but life goes on. It was just a film.” To create a “film” that lives its own life, participating, interactive, and symbiotic with me.

As a competent DIY filmmaker, mystification or mixing fiction and reality ceased to satisfy me. It occurred to me that even the film that I had made and stubbornly referred to as documentary wasn't readily accepted by anyone other than me. A film can be viewed many times, but this requires forcing the viewer into the chair for a prescribed period of time that always comes to an end. And it was the end of the film that disappointed me, or more precisely the fact that it wasn't anymore. I wanted the film to continue, so that my “film” would become part of my reality, and, if my viewer would permit it, also a part of his or her reality.

In pursuit of this concept, I ended up in the field of biology, and although this medium had always fascinated me, I'd never before been capable of noticing it, or seriously noticing this fascination. Finally, I realized that being the initiator of a given work does not require me to simultaneously firmly hold onto the position of demiurge, and that my belief in creative dominance could appear to be something quite archaic. My conception for The Symbiosity of Creation isn't one of playing God, but rather it's the interactive and symbiotic relationship of creating a common work. This interactivity, however, isn't the type that we normally think of that is made using advanced information technologies, robotics, or multimedia and operating somewhere between the artifact and the viewer. It's the interactivity of biological beings, the symbiotic interactivity between humans and non-humans, and in which the key voices are those of the non-humans.

The process of The Symbiosity of Creation doesn't have just one author. In all parts of this work, although most of the effort to build and expand my installation-incubators was and will continue to be supplied by me, in the early stages of the work I was forced into the position of co-creator, or even just one of the actors-workers of creating these "networks", and this was by no means my decision as an artist. My lifestyle, my views of the world and human responsibility, my understanding of the analogy between humans and non-humans, and my normal everyday reality underwent diametrical change. I found the shared quotidian.

2. Origins of the idea

Before I arrived at The Symbiosity of Creation, I began working from three conceptions that arose almost simultaneously. 1. Let’s imagine a species of ant that builds its anthills out of metal shavings. 2. Let’s imagine a species of snail that moves ten times faster than those we know. 3. Let’s imagine a composer who creates a symphony only from sounds the human ear cannot hear. And now let’s accept these three situations, in which we find ourselves through imagination, as natural, known to each one of us from everyday life, and let’s ask ourselves a question: what was the purpose of this development and attempting to achieve this state, and what do these examples of situations mean? . . .

After consultations with others and after analyzing these three conceptions myself, I decided to work with ants. But it was obvious to me that it was necessary to prepare myself properly for this subject. Very quickly I rejected my concept of “metal shavings”—further conceptual artifacts stopped interesting me. I was interested in working with “something” existing. I was more interested in surrendering myself than in making myself superior, and, as it turned out later, something that I could not yet name—that very Symbiosity. During my preparations, I obtained documentary films about social insects, popular-scientific texts, and strictly scientific publications. A section of one film on the phenomenon of communication and the way ants live and work seized my attention in particular.

The film showed excavations in what is probably one of the largest anthills in the world, earlier filled in with ten tons of cement by a team of Brazilian scientists from the University of Botucatu in southern Brazil.[1] The builders of this massive underground megalopolis were ants of the genus Atta (Fabricius, 1804), commonly known in English as leaf cutter ants —the world’s first farmers. Their discovery of agriculture—the beginnings of the cultivation of the fungus on which they live—are dated by entomologists to some fifty million years ago, while the human discovery of the possibility of sowing and harvesting crops is dated by other scientists to some ten thousand years ago.[2]

The context of cement appeared among my interests earlier, inter alia, during my Austrian investigations for Wymazywanie.Amstetten (Erasing.Amstetten), on the subject of the trauma caused by Joseph Fritzl. This chance connection awoke my imagination, and I decided on a long-term (as I foresee it) reconstruction of this anthill, which was covered in cement by human beings. I “saw” this reconstruction as a great ant-laboratory in the form of mobile installation-incubators, constructed so as to permit non-conflicting disconnection and removal from my workshop to the outside. I am working together with a colony of Brazilian ants Atta sexdens (Linnaeus, 1758) on this reconstruction, and, if all goes well, we plan to work from 2012 to approximately 2034, as long as the queen of this colony lives, that is. This part of The Symbiosity of Creation bears the title Reconstruction of Non-Human Culture.

In the second part, the interests I have already mentioned in the context of erasing, and also the Austrian story of Natascha Kampusch that belongs to them too, finally came together after reading the reportage pieces in Maciej Wasielewski’s Jutro przypłynie królowa.[3] They took the form of the idea of creating a hermetic kingdom, referring to the society that Wasielewski describes as still existing on Pitcairn Island, a kingdom in the shape of a marvelous island of happiness, woven in the form of a “private” cocoon by the ant Oecophylla smaragdina (Fabricius, 1775), after leaf cutter ants perhaps the most specialized species of ant in the world. These ants are commonly called weavers, spinners, or seamstresses in Polish; they are also known as Australian green weaver ants or tree ants. Pitcairn Island, which lies in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and belongs to Great Britain, is still inhabited today by the descendants of the famous mutineers on the expedition of the Bounty to obtain breadfruit seedlings on Tahiti. In this part of my dissertation, entitled the Kingdom of the Shared Quotidian, a colony of weaver ants spends all its nights and days on a breadfruit tree that I have raised from a small seedling. We plan this collaboration for the period from 2013 to around 2022. Of course, both estimated periods have been calculated based on data relating to the life spans of the queens of each of the two ant species chosen.


Excavations under the direction of Professor Luiz Carlos Forti after covering the anthill of Atta in ten tons of cement. Still from the film Ants! – Nature's Secret Power, directed by Wolfgang Thaler, a coproduction of Adi Mayer Film and ORF, 2004.

3. Six attempts

Only a small number of queens manage to establish colonies in the wild, so gathering the queens does not affect the natural population.[4]

Below I present all four of my failed attempts:
1. leaf cutter ants – a young colony, purchased in Berlin, Germany, on October 8, 2012 – death of the queen around October 28, 2012;
2. weaver ants – a young queen without workers, bought in Germany not far from Munich on September 16, 2013 – death of the queen on September 20, 2013;
3. weaver ants – a young colony bought in Germany not far from Frankfurt am Main, where it had arrived a week earlier from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, on October 15, 2013 – the death of the queen on November 25, 2013;
4. weaver ants – a young colony bought in Berlin in Germany on November 29, 2013 – the death of the queen around March 24, 2014.

I decided to make public all four of the unsuccessful attempts, which together make up the third part of the project, entitled the Subterranean Struggle.

I began preparatory work on the project in June 2012. I bought the first colony of leaf cutter ants in early October 2012. I didn't, however, pick it up personally in Berlin. It was collected by an experienced ant breeder who lives near Poznań, where I went to pick up the colony. I am not sure if the queen was already dead on arrival, or if she died a few days after I returned to Sopot. Those were monstrously uneasy, chaotic, and emotional days. I traveled with my wife on January 5, 2013 to obtain a second colony of leaf cutter ants, for which, because of the death of the first, I received a reduction in the Berlin shop. We brought back one queen and twenty-five workers, the whole time checking the temperature in the Styrofoam container, in which we kept them during the journey. The colony developed successfully and is in splendid condition, even though we went through one serious catastrophe, which ended with the now devastated part of the installation, which I refer to as dead “Detroit” (at present I am working on reviving this area).

Exactly a year from my first thoughts on the Reconstruction of Non-human Culture, I began to prepare and construct the second, much more difficult project entitled the Kingdom of the Shared Quotidian. During the summer in July and August 2013, I built a monumental construction that would house the outstanding habitat I would build for the exceptionally valuable weaver ants, which are also aggressive and very difficult to keep under laboratory conditions. On September 16, I decided to start. It was a single young queen without workers. Unfortunately, she died a few days after arriving in Sopot. In mid-October 2013, I traveled to Boppard not far from Frankfurt am Main in the company of an ant breeder I had befriended a few months earlier for a new colony of weaver ants. The colony that I bought came from the Danish Danida project at the University of Aarhus; the project consists of importing young queens from northern Australia and transporting them to Benin and Tanzania to be used in plantations of nut and mango trees. The queen died at the end of November. Despite these misfortunes, a few days later I decided on a third and, as I thought then, final attempt to start a new colony. I brought it back, again personally, this time from Berlin. The blow of a third failure meant a time of total doubt as to whether it was, indeed, at all possible. I refused to acknowledge information I had come across earlier that even ant breeders in the Philippines, in other words theoretically in a habitat natural for these ants, could not succeed in this venture. But I wanted to believe for the last time, unfortunately the fourth in a row . . . and I succeeded: the weaver queen laid eggs, and the ants are smiling, and everything is working—for sure.

Some might say that this colony could fail too. Of course, you have to look out, which I do with the greatest diligence. The victorious weaver queen came to me through the charming German dealer in ants and his Filipina wife, who I mentioned earlier, from Boppard near Frankfurt am Main in Germany.

I know of only one attempt in Poland to maintain a colony of weaver ants under artificial conditions— that at the Łódź Zoological Gardens two years ago.[5] Unfortunately, it was unsuccessful. In conclusion to this chapter, I wish to emphasize that although the section entitled the Subterranean Struggle may give the impression that what we went through together was part of the martyrology of the contemporary artist, I firmly reject this, and I assure you that what we went through together is only what we went through together—nothing else. That it was hard and sad is both natural and obvious. It happened and it happens all the time; it happened and there’s nothing lofty about it all. I just regret that I failed four times. I succeeded twice, and that’s what I intend to remember.


A view of the first incubator around a week after the death of the first leaf cutter ant queen. The incubator is still open at the top. November 6, 2012. The second leaf cutter ant queen was introduced successfully into this incubator, and she established her colony in it. The photograph is my own.


Construction of the first weaver ant incubator, August 8, 2013. The fourth weaver queen successfully established her colony in this incubator. To the left and right are more incubators for leaf cutter ants. The photograph is my own.


4. The shared quotidian is found or metaphors and interpretations?

My use of the language of biology might, if only superficially, seem somewhat frivolous. In essence, this activity leads to the existence of what is invisible and highlights what has not yet been shown. The word culture, both in English and in French, also means to rear, to cultivate. Thus, one can read my dissertation at once as a many-leveled metaphor of a futuristic farm-utopia, the complete cultivation of perfection, and of an inter-specific culture-community. And what's most interesting is that I'm not the author, and certainly not the only one. The exchange of thoughts: “What does he do? He breeds ants” may seem curiously valueless and indeed comically banal, undeserving of any sort of interest, if we had not physically experienced an overview of the collectively emerging work.

But despite that, the most interesting view of what we do together is, without any metaphors or interpretations, the direct reception of this work. It is (simultaneously) only and exactly what we see, nothing more. Beyond the incubators filled with meticulously planned installations of pipes, tubes, and laboratory vessels in which the ants live and reproduce, this work is nothing more than the shared quotidian of me and my ants. In the course of time, interpretations and metaphors have generally ceased to be meaningful.

Despite their clarity, they have ceased to be important and have degenerated somehow into the model of a family; an unprecedented force, they have begun to fade in the face of Symbiosity and the uncompromising nature of what we create together. In what we do there are undeniably no compromises and each of us, the given superorganism and I, means nothing individually, and, indeed, we do not exist without ourselves mutually as a work.

5. Biopower against the shared quotidian

To paraphrase Michel de Certeau, and further Michel Foucault, it is obvious that the course of my thinking in The Symbiosity of Creation only records the traces of more or less certain steps in territory that has been inhabited for ages. Despite this, The Symbiosity of Creation changes me and also changes what I thought and what I co-create, so that it changes and changes one’s thinking and now I think no more what I thought before.

In this sense my work changes not only my thinking, but also my way of perceiving everything beyond the narcissistic and egoistic “I”.

The philosophy of Michel Foucault tells us to read my work as an illustrated form of hegemonic biopower/knowledge. Many times already employed in the visual arts, Foucault’s analyses, in fact, appear to be still contemporary, and return with doubled force. But we hear, too, Michel de Certeau’s polemics, which appear, thanks to some shrewd moves, as exploitations of those same systems, and of mechanisms precisely described by Foucault—that is quotidian operations and the ordinary everyday, or, also, to try to be consistent, our shared quotidian, these escape from the control of Foucaultian power and, in fact, avoid it. As the co-author of this work, I see it thus: Michel Foucault stands outside, in front of the incubators; Michel de Certeau, on the other hand, moves within them, in the corners of the laboratory’s architecture; but I, together with the ants, attempt to understand one and the other, although I think that my ants long ago understood this polemic.

But I could also say this: merging the elements of our imaginings and associations in experiencing all three parts of The Symbiosity of Creation, we receive some kind of gigantic, transdisciplinary “toy” for the Foucaultian power/knowledge. This transdisciplinarity, however, has a chance of waking us up from our accustomedness to classic language, and by that to change our habits in the way we think toward openness and the perception of things as they are. This toy for a “giant,” for power, without implying any political option, has a chance of telling its history not so much clearly, as a classic work might do, as in a penetrating and performative manner, disposing of the perception of oneself or the human recipient as the center of things.

6. A polemic with the “Symbiotic Art Manifesto”

I quote in its entirety the Symbiotic Art Manifesto by Leonel Moura and Henrique Garcia Pereira from 2004:
1) Machines can make art
2) Man and machine can make symbiotic art
3) Symbiotic art is a new paradigm that opens up new ways for art
4) It involves totally relinquishing manufacture and the reign of the hand in art
5) It involves totally relinquishing personal expression and the centrality of the artist / human
6) It involves totally relinquishing any moralist or spiritual ambition, or any purpose of representation.
[6]

Although the paradigms are not questioned, and it is not my intention to do so, I would like to draw attention to and postulate the need for critical inspection, in the future perhaps of the whole manifesto, but now only of its second point, which tries to tell us that the shared operation of the human and the machine can be called symbiotic.

Here I am not concerned to point out that one should rather give monkeys sheets of paper and crayons; neither am I concerned to pour colored ink between the ants’ nest and the food prepared for them; finally, I am not concerned to color their honey in the shades of the rainbow and observe how their abdomens take on colors, even though that would certainly be spectacular and there are cases, indeed, of such operations. Such actions took place in the 1950s. “For two years [from 1956
—my note J.C./E.F.] the chimpanzee Congo, constantly encouraged by Desmond Morris, was able to produce three hundred and eighty drawings and paintings. This activity was only interrupted when Congo grew into a strong individual, who would not let himself be controlled, nor had any desire for long drudgery over a sheet of paper.”[7] However, Maurice Maeterlinck, already in 1930, writes of the possibility of knowing how ants pass food to each other from mouth to mouth. With this purpose, he encouraged readers to color bright blue some drops of honey in order to see that, despite the fact that ants come in only small groups to drink from it, after some time the abdomens of almost the whole colony have become blue.[8]

I am writing of this because in the face of what my ants and I have experienced together—and I wish to underline this clearly—it is impossible to correlate The Symbiosity of Creation with the activities of robots drawing with colored markers. This does not seem to go together with our common work, and that is why The Symbiosity of Creation, despite the contiguity of names with the manifesto I have been taking issue with, is not a reprise of the activities of Leonel Moura with his robots. However, indisputably, I am in agreement with point three, and I can say that both the Symbiotic Art Manifesto and The Symbiosity of Creation open further new opportunities for art.

7. Concepts of “The Symbiosity of Creation”

The Symbiosity of Creation was the accidental conjunction of four areas: 1. bio-art, initiated by the Brazilian Eduardo Kac and the Australian duet SymbioticA of Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr; 2. Nicolas Bourriaud’s Relational Esthetics; 3. Jan Świdziński’s contextual art; and 4. social performance (in which a fifth additional and most important area in this calculation is the everyday, which is redefined in the direction of the shared quotidian). Therefore, I adduce the following eight points that are significant to my proposed theory:
a. The Symbiosity of Creation is a change in the position of the author from demiurge to participant;
b. The Symbiosity of Creation is a categorical departure from narcissism and a concentration on the creation of one’s own personality as an artist;
c. The Symbiosity of Creation is a redefinition of interactivity understood now as the relationship of living beings, humans, and non-humans;
d. The Symbiosity of Creation is a complete departure from the conviction that everything can be art;
e. The Symbiosity of Creation is the rejection of any manifestations of arrogance or lack of respect;
f. The Symbiosity of Creation is shared creation conducted with utter devotion and full respect for all participating beings;
g. The Symbiosity of Creation lacks the possibility of creating only for the time of exhibition —it is necessary to foresee carefully the future of the work;
h. The Symbiosity of Creation is a process in which everything has meaning, both the decisions of the human-artist and the non-humans participating in the process —the decisions of both parties have a creative influence on one and other, and it does not matter which decisions are more important.

8. The parochialism of anthropocentrism

We are in the second decade of the twenty-first century, a century that treats the ideas, reflections, and constructions of posthumanism seriously. The anthropomorphic understanding of the world, with its egoistic orientation toward the human and his/her individuality, is no longer the only most obvious or rational idea. When we bring human endeavors, politics above all, into contact with biocentric tendencies, or with the more and more frequent need to mix anthro- and bio-centrism, they turn out to be only a small part of a great whole, hitherto unseen, one that insistently demands to be seen as a unity.

Lynn Margulis points out that nothing indicates that we were “chosen” or that other species have to be subject to our exceptionality. Our stubborn and delusive conviction of our exceptionality obscures for us the truth of our true status—a biped that stands upright and breeds like a weed.[9] Bruno Latour makes clear that the dualist division of nature/culture does not exist and never did; it was thought up by theoreticians. But the view that nature is governed by its laws, that it is pure, independent, and separated from the rest by a clear, impenetrable border is a delusive, idealized myth. In such a context, anthropocentrism is a narcissistic human creation, a reaction to acts of resistance and opposition of non-humans and of everything that is non-human, an egoistic conviction of his/her own domination. The introduction to Polityka natury mentions Timothy Mitchell’s analyses, drawing on Latour’s theory. These are splendid examples of how we as humans are in error. Here, there is a discussion of two simultaneous attacks on Egypt in 1942. “The Germans came in the rumble of tanks; mosquitoes appeared unnoticed. But mosquitoes killed more people by spreading malaria. The victims of the mosquitoes were forgotten only because they were not killed by people, and malaria is treated as simply a phenomenon of nature. In reality, in the history of the epidemic there were several factors combined.”[10] Next is a description of what happened that reads as follows: “Thus, the epidemic was not a natural phenomenon exclusively dependent on the operation of natural laws, but an occurrence that combined various elements, which traditional thinking places in separate compartments. We have here the protozoa that produce malaria, mosquitoes exploiting for their expansion the technological changes to the Nile, ideas of modernization understood as the growth of productivity, weakened health [of humans
—my note J.C./E.F.], the cutting of trade routes by war, etc. Reality is not nature and culture separated from each other, but networks formed of variegated human and non-human actors.”[11] Let me continue by paraphrasing Edwin Bendyk, who argues that everything that appears as social reality is simply the result of the interplay of all actors, an interplay that may seem chaotic, but which builds the structures of social order. Just as the bustling activity of individual termites can lead to the emergence of an efficiently functioning termite mound. Termites, too, are actors in a wider social reality. That’s what happened in April 2011 when they attacked and ate up the money in an Indian bank.[12]

Another reference that it is worth including here is a passage by Jacob von Uexküll cited by Joanna Jeśman, who, inspired by him, writes that “our task is an attempt to get rid of the purely human vision of reality and through getting to know the physical and mental possi- bilities of the animal to enter into its realm.”[13] Jokob von Uexküll formulated the theory of Umwelten, in which every organism and society (including the human) lives in an environment that recalls a soap bubble, a particular kind of enclosed realm. Despite the fact that his reflections principally concentrate on breaking the barrier between humans and animals, this theory is valuable here and helps understand our Symbiosity of Creation.

9. Pulling back: two steps back, three steps forward

There was a moment-aspect-operation in my work that I pulled back from; in fact, there was more than one decision to pull back a few steps and cover a given distance again (I want to maintain this style of work—it's natural). But the reason why I stopped collecting fingernails is easy to explain. Human fingernails, and there were also plans for human epidermis, were to be collected and sterilized in autoclaves, then ground, mixed with dried evergreen blackberry leaves, dissolved in an agar solution, and poured in thin layers into Petri dishes. This was supposed to be a way to produce a gigantic number of “leaves” for the leaf cutter ants, which would have used them to fertilize their fungus.

Just like the concept of creating an anthill of metal shavings, which I mentioned at the beginning of this text, this concept of “fighting” with fingernails, and consequently a fungus containing human elements, did not withstand the test of time. Fingernails would have been, at the least, disingenuous on my part.

“The goal of the efforts of the busy is precisely the battle for existence that is created and renewed with each tiny action. There is no joking.”[14] In this instance, fingernails would be a dishonest joke.

10. On not being a myrmecologist

Description 1.
Atta sexdens, leaf cutter ant

“Because they posses one of the most complex communication systems known in animals, the most elaborate caste system, air-conditioned nest architecture, and populations into the millions, leafcutter ants deserve recognition as the Earth's ultimate superorganisms.”[15]

Their primary source of food is a fungus from the family Leucocoprinus, which the ants cultivate themselves. Fresh leaves are cut from trees and bushes and then carried to the underground fungus chambers where the smallest caste of the colony cut them nearly into pulp, which is the optimal substrate for growing Leucocoprinus gongylophorus.

The development of a new colony begins with the birth of a winged queen, which, as she leaves the nest always carries with her a fragment of active fungus as she undertakes her nuptial flight, usually on an afternoon between October and mid December.[16] The queen usually copulates with a maximum of five partners, and stores their semen containing from approximately 200 to 320 million sperm in her own “sperm bank” for the duration of her life. Her life span, according to information sources found, is from ten to fifteen years; however, some sources report life spans of more than twenty years. In comparison, regular worker ants live for about a year and a half. One leaf cutter queen can give birth during her lifetime to approximately 150 to 200 million progeny. The only role of male ants is to inseminate the queen, and after completing this task they die, but they become fathers nearly every day for many, many years.

According to researchers, when the colony has become a large, mature superorganism, the Atta queen produces a huge number of eggs. Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson report that the queen can produce twenty eggs per minute day and night, which is 28,800 eggs per day. Considering that my colony of leaf cutter ants has been living with me only since January 5, 2013, when the queen had just 25 young workers, and that this number has grown to about 10,000 currently, the challenges the future holds are massive.

I can't fail to mention that these ants are considered to be pests by the human species. One mature colony is capable of occupying an area 16 meters in diameter, 8 meters deep, and can number more than eight million active workers. I discovered alleged reports of Atta sexdens colonies spreading into and developing in large human agglomerations in southern Brazil.

Not being a myrmecologist, I had to acquire as much knowledge as possible on the cultivation of leaf cutter ants under laboratory conditions starting from zero and, throughout the process was largely on my own. In all of the texts I was able to access, maintaining a colony under such conditions without controlling its growth is described as nearly impossible because of the huge number of worker ants, but also because of the sizes of their fungus gardens. At the University of Illinois, selected sections of fungus are frozen periodically, which also kills off parts of the colony's population.

The scientists at the University of Illinois report that the optimal cultivation and living conditions for the fungus and ants described are within a temperature range of 25–27 ºC and a humidity range of 80–95 %.

Recently, I learned by accident that the fungus cultivated by the leaf cutter ants in the first part of The Symbiosity of Creation belongs to the same family Leucocoprinus as the mushrooms arising, without my knowledge or intention, in the second part of the project, where the breadfruit trees are growing and which in inhabited by the weaver ants. These are the common tropical Leucocoprinus birnbaumii, known colloquially as yellow flowerpot parasols.

Description 2.
Oecophylla smaragdina, weaver ant

“Among teams that organize themselves to work together simultaneously, perhaps the most complex, and certainly the most striking in appearance, is nest building in the weaver ants of the genus Oecophylla.”[17] To build a nest, the weavers cooperate to form a chain by grabbing onto one another's petiole. This is how they pull and fold leaves, then the next weavers work with larvae from which a type of silk is squeezed and used by the ants to fuse one part of a leaf with a second, in practice sewing the leaves together to create a type of cocoon. Mature colonies comprise from up to several tens of cocoons distributed across several to fifteen or more trees. It is possible for one colony to be established cooperatively by two or three young queens, which contrasts with the leaf cutter ants' colonies that are always led by a single queen. Weaver ant colonies are not as abundant as those of leaf cutter ants,numbering up to a half a million individual workers. Caste divisions are also different, and the role of soldiers are assumed by the oldest workers, which, if they die, causes the least loss to the colony.

Humans are known to eat weaver ants in various forms. Larvae are sold both fresh and boiled, and whole functioning nests are also harvested. In restaurants in the native range of occurrence of this species, these ants are thought of as a delicious addition to many dishes.

As with the leaf cutter ants, cultivating this species under laboratory conditions is thought to be nearly impossible. The breeders I have communicated with have confirmed that cultivating weaver ants is, in fact, impossible, as it is certainly one of the most difficult and most sensitive to shortcomings of all the ants in the world. But it is possible.

In contrast to leaf cutter ants, weaver ants have never been classified by people as pests, quite the opposite. They were utilized from the third century CE[18] as a natural, biological method for combating pests in fruit tree orchards. Records also exist of farmers creating special links among trees to facilitate the ants preying on pests. Weaver ants feed mainly on insects, with just a small number of them feeding on sweet honeydew. Under laboratory conditions, these are usually flies and honey diluted with water. Fly larvae can be purchased without difficulty in any shop catering to anglers.

Several years ago the Danish International Development Agency (Danida) began realizing a project at the University of Aarhus in Denmark to collect and transport young, newly inseminated weaver ant queens from northeastern areas of Australia to Denmark, where they are provided with conditions that permit them to develop into small colonies, and then they are transported to Africa to mango orchards (I write about these in section three). The goal of this program is to have the weaver ants help the African farmers in their fruit orchards.

Thus, The Symbiosity of Creation is based on two ant species – the mild pests and the aggressive helpers.

I'll end this section with two quotations from Maeterlinck. He concludes that, in contrast to what happens in human crowds, the group intelligence of insects living in communities increases in proportion to the number of individuals that comprise them [...].[19] He also contends that humans alone, among creatures which live socially, have no social organ, and that our existence is based on concentricity, while ants live centrifugally. The axis does not rotate equally in these two instances. In the human world, everything is based solely, or- ganically, and terribly on egoism.[20]

These two quotations together suggest that our mutual project, The Symbiosity of Creation, might have a chance, in the future, of being among the most intelligent and, simultaneously, the most altruistic of undertakings.


Mature colony of weaver ants. Source: Christina Troelsen, Ants help African farmers, December 10, 2010. Photograph Prof. Mogens Gissel Nielsen.


Photograph from Main-Post, number 87–9, Die Königin kam aus Sudamerika (Queen of South America). Pictured – Prof. Karl Gößwald (1907-1996) and his colony of leaf cutter ants. Date unknown – circa 1950s–1960s. Photograph Röder.


11. Conclusions

There are many people who breed ants, just as there are many people who place a canvas on an easel and take a brush in hand. But, if someone were to say to me, “You have touched on a very important issue: when and what decides if something is art?”, I would respond that I don't know, and that this is no longer the most important issue for me. It's not even important to me whether anyone calls what I am doing art or not. The questions of where is the art here and what is art and what isn't art are completely inadequate in the face of what we are creating together in this work.

Schematic drawings are included as annexes to the project (one of which is included in the Subterranean Struggle section of the photographic documentation) to explain the communication system inside the incubators. These drawings are essential to the understanding of the urban planning solutions in the incubators, and they also permit more rapid and more sensible reactions to smaller or bigger problems that occur during mutual work.

The Symbiosity of Creation is a work of continual process, which is why a good portion of the photographic documentation will soon be inadequate compared to the actual state of the project. I finished writing this text on July 16, 2014.

During public exhibitions and presentations of our mutual creation, the plan is to broadcast live the happenings inside the incubators and also to create a telebridge of pictures and sounds when the different parts of the project are exhibited in different locations.

The bibliography includes not only the references cited in the text, but also all of those that served me to lesser or greater degrees when making or undertaking more or less radical decisions and actions.

I would like to extend my thanks to Monika Bakke for the extremely valuable teleconsultation she conducted with me on October 16, 2013, and to Ryszard W. Kluszczyński for the equally valuable and inspiring meeting in my workshop on May 17, 2014. I would also like to thank Anna Biała for her invaluable, ongoing support for my project.

Jarosław Czarnecki aka Elvin Flamingo
translated by Jennifer Zielińska


[1] I cite here a section of the film Ants! – Nature's Secret Power, directed by Wolfgang Thaler, a coproduction of Adi Mayer Film i ORF, 2004.
[2] Laurent Keller & Elisabeth Gordon, The lives of Ants, p. 129, Oxford University Press, 2010.
[3] I refer here to Maciej Wasielewski, Jutro przypłynie królowa [Tomorrow the Queen Arrives], Wydawnictwo Czarne, Wołowiec 2013.
[4] Christina Troelsen, Ants Help African Farmers – University of Aarhus, Denmark:
http://scitech.au.dk/en/current-affairs/news/show/artikel/ants-help-african-farmers/, accessed July 8, 2014.
[5] Bartłomiej Dana, Sto mrówek udźwignie torebkę ryżu. Do obejrzenia w zoo, January 16, 2012, http://lodz.gazeta.pl/lodz/1,35153,10969437.html, accessed July 8, 2014.
[6] Leonel Moura, Henrique Garcia Pereira, 2004, http://www.leonelmoura.com/manifesto.html, accessed July 8, 2014.
[7] Monika Bakke, Bio-transfiguracje. Sztuka i estetyka posthumanizmu, p. 218, Wydawnictwo Naukowe, Poznań 2012.
[8] See: Maurice Maeterlinck, Życie mrówek, p. 34, Wydawnictwo Alfa, Warszawa 1992.
[9] Lynn Margulis, Symbiotyczna planeta, p. 169, Wydawnictwo CiS, Warszawa, 2000.
[10] Maciej Gdula’s introduction to Polityka natury by Bruno Latour, p. 7, Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej, Warszawa 2009.
[11] Ibid, p. 8.
[12] Edwin Bendyk, Czy społeczeństwo to fikcja? Książę sieci, January 11, 2012, www.polityka.pl/tygodnikpolityka/nauka/1522923,1,czyspoleczenstwo- to-fikcja.read, accessed July 8, 2014.
[13] Quoted from Joanna Jeśman’s article ”Zwierzęta w bio-arcie. Obrona czy atak?” from the book Ludzie i zwierzęta, Ed. Roman Chymkowski and Anna Jaroszuk, p. 155, Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, Warszawa 2014.
[14] Jolanta Brach-Czaina, Szczeliny istnienia, p. 97, Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1992.
[15] Bert Hölldobler, Edward O. Wilson, The Superorganism. The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies, p. 408, W.W.Norton & Company, New York 2009.
[16] This occurs in the tropics and sub-tropics of South America, mainly in Brazil.
[17] Bert Hölldobler, Edward O. Wilson, The Superorganism. The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies, p. 160, W.W.Norton & Company, New York 2009.
[18] These data refer to areas in southeast Asia.
[19] Maurice Maeterlinck, Życie mrówek, p. 28, Wydawnictwo Alfa, Warszawa 1992.
[20] Ibid, p. 39.




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