Critical Point is a video and light sculpture that explores collective behaviour in nature. It’s inspired by the group dynamics of flocking starlings...
Tom Newell (United Kingdom) / Limbic Cinema (United Kingdom)
Critical Point is a video and light sculpture that explores collective behaviour in nature. It’s inspired by the group dynamics of flocking starlings, whose large-scale coordination during murmuration is arguably nature's most beautiful example of what scientists describe as ‘biological criticality’.
Particle physicists explain this process using equations of "critical transitions” - systems that are poised to tip - on the brink of a great and instantaneous transition, like an avalanche or a liquid turning to gas. Researchers have discovered through mathematical analysis, that each bird in a flock of starlings responds to the seven birds around it. Regardless of the numbers in the flock, each individual is as important as the whole in governing its form and direction. The collective patterns of flock dynamics tend to be self organised, and arise from local interactions between individuals, which propagate information through the whole group.
The critical point is best observed in animals when the subject is under threat of death, like a school of fish trying to evade a predator, coming together in a tightly-packed group to become greater than the sum of its parts, shifting shape and changing direction in order to survive. The building blocks of life can also be observed as local interactions between groups of individuals, genes combine to make up DNA, and neurons come together to form memories. These ideas are explored cinematically through a series of visual transitions, detailed animations show changes in states and interactions between individuals in groups. The animations are presented on a transparent screen, bringing the location into the work by layering it behind the moving image and augmenting the content with a natural environment.
Country represented by installation: United Kingdom