Bumble Domicile (2008) is an integrated media installation which weaves observation of an on-site bumble bee hive containing live video and audio of its internal activity with the hive’s outdoor pollen collecting activity; real-time ultraviolet video of flowering plants in the building’s communal garden adjacent to the gallery; audio transformations of bees, an electroformed bumble bee hive, and trading cards of our local wild bees.

It premiered July 4-27, 2008 at the *new* gallery, 906 Queen W., (Toronto), Canada) and was a co-presented by InterAccess Media Arts Centre and New Adventures in Sound Art. The following links provide details:

Collaborating researchers: Laurence Packer (York University), Jessamyn Manson (University of Toronto), Peter Hallett (University of Toronto), and Stephen Buchmann (University of Arizona). Photos below by Dave Kemp.

Download: Bumble Domicile Gallery Notes

Above: views of the installations at the *new* gallery in July, 2008. The ladder leads to the observation bumble bee colony, to which all of the pieces that make up the show are connected in some way.

Below: The top of the ladder to the colony, the peephole and a glimpse of the colony through the peephole.

Visitors could look through the peephole into the hive while listening to the bees working (in stereo!) using volume controlled head phones. Loud speakers in the gallery continuously played audio transformations of bees and shō.

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Watch this video of bumble bees in the gallery’s colony (week 4, of the colony’s cycle) and listen to their sounds.

Below: The far wall of the gallery featured a projection of live data visualization based on genetic data (DNA) sequences of plants in the real world garden outside the gallery and pollen collected by the bees and analyzed as they return to the gallery colony. This portion of Bumble Domicile is titled “Apiograph”. This video describes the process:

 

The Flower Anther Swabbing Team (F.A.S.T.) youth involved in Art in the Park at Trinity Bellwoods regularly swabbed anthers of various flowering plants in the adjacent Artscape tenants’ garden and in nearby Trinity Bellwoods Park with colourful fluorescent tracking powders. They posted swabbing activity  logs and created a diagramme of how their plant swabbing, pollen-gathering and Apiograph visualization interconnect.

Below: live ultraviolet video of (invisible) flower patterns was projected into a silver bowl created by Anne Barros in the gallery from a custom camera placed in the garden outside by Rob Cruickshank.

Below: Gallery visitors were invited to place aromatic offerings of beeswax and pine resin into a heated copper tray that featured an electroformed bumble bee hive.

Below: Bee trading cards produced for the show featured colour-coded DNA snippets and other life facts about Toronto’s wild bees. Other goodies were also available, including an introduction to bees, habitat, and coevolution and a Guide to Toronto’s Pollinators (written by Laurence Packer and published by the  David Suzuki Foundation).

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Bee pin and show promo card:

Bee pin and card
Bee pin and business card:

  • Kat Cruickshank – bumble bee cartoon
  • Robert Cruickshank – bumble bee hive image
  • Anneli West – design

Art and Ethics

The bumble bee hive in the gallery was not reared from wild, locally-caught bumblebees, but was a commercial Bombus hive.  Sarah Peebles (project lead) wrote more about what the fate of our bumble bee colony was, what we told (and didn’t tell) the public – she also invited leading bee biologists to chime in about controversy that surrounds commercially raised bumble bee colonies and the latest science at Art and Ethics.

Garden assistance generously provided by Gene Threndyle and resident gardeners of 900 Queen W, Michele Bakic, and Trinity Bellwoods Art in the Park and CARE youth. Plant Swabbing assistance by F.A.S.T.

Artist Biographies and complete Credits for Bumble Domicile are here.

Link: Rob Cruickshank’s Resonating Bodies Documentation photo set on Flickr. View set as a Slideshow.