Lily Gabaree: Additive Ants

These are proposed applications in reaction to Group 3’s exploration of ant materials and interfaces, drawing on Poseidon Ho’s work.

Ants will follow directed UV light, and thus can be guided en masse. In addition to forming a material together, ants are excellent actuators: they are efficient and systematic builders, and disproportionately strong – carrying large objects.



So ants could be used for additive manufacturing, controlled by light, making an ant-driven 3D printer.



Alternatively, they could support subtractive manufacturing, eating patterns in gel in three dimensions (also in reaction to UV light signals).













Finally, ants can carry and convey messages, serving as an unexpected and innocuous messenger, or a collective art display.


Ants making art; and protesting deforestation (World Wide Nature Fund, 2015)

Ants are cool. Has anyone combined additive and subtractive fabrication with insects? As with Poseidon’s idea, what is the role of the user? What is the role of the machine? What is the interaction? Is there a user?


See the original Seek project from arcitecture machine lab (precurser to media lab)

1969-70 – SEEK – Nicholas Negroponte (American)