Luci. Sin nombre y sin memoria (Luci. With no name and no memory), 2008
Berenguer, José Manuel
Nature, regardless of the organization or the type of material one considers, is full of oscillators. Everything can be seen as oscillating systems: from energy emissions in the form of radiation, each with its characteristic frequency, to pulsars and planets that spin around the stars; geological systems, like the temperature throughout the history of the earth; and stock exchange systems and prices. Some examples of systems that tend to be self-organizing are: homeostatic mechanisms in animals, the thousands of cellular genes that regulate each other in the gene expression system, the networks of cells and molecules that determine the immune response, the cells in the bundle of Hiss which regulate the heartbeat, and the millions of neurons in the nervous system which provide the material basis for mental activity, learning, and thought itself.
Self-organization also takes place in some groups of fireflies. The male firefly emits an intermittent light signal to which the female responds if the pattern of the intermittence is sexy enough for her. In some groups, the frequencies of the light emissions tend to become similar until, later on, they are all the same. This is a fascinating biological oscillator, able to produce an endless number of aesthetic experiences: whole ponds, trees, and mangroves inhabited by huge groups of these insects end up emitting intermittent green light into the jungle night. Each insect’s independent oscillators change after an adaptation process. The group begins by producing a certain number of chaotic pulsing patterns determined by the independent pulsing frequencies of each insect, to end up joining in a sole intermittent rhythm. They become synchronized.
Fascinated by this vision, I wanted to mimic the emerging behavior of groups of fireflies electronically in an installation. I made the first model in 1994. I had five electronic fireflies. Now the installation has 60 electronic and 128 computational elements. When ambient light is intense, each electronic object pulses independently. The moment the amount of light drops below a certain threshold-when infrared signals can be captured by the receptors of their neighbors-the system tends to stabilize such that extensive areas are created where the objects begin to pulse in synchrony at some point. The computational agents, with no individual name and no memory, mimic that behaviour and project it in a dihedral angle onto the space opposite the electronic objects. From their individual behavior, Luci is an unexpected emergence.