The Stalagmèmes project was born of the meeting between Jonathan Ppepe and David Chavalarias during the cycle « Uncertainty of Forms » organized by the Fresnoy in preparation of the exhibition. Jonathan Pêpe then presented his installation Exo_biote, a work aimed at inventing a typology of possible forms and movements by diverting technologies developed in“soft robotics” technologies.
David Chavalarias’ concerns about the reconstruction, analysis and visualization of collective social dynamics have found in this work a fertile ground for an encounter between these two universes. The ambition was to make perceptible, even tangible, the forms generated by the social dynamics in which we take part and which transcend us in the form of a collective intelligence.
Everyone has already seen the colonies of ants that find the nearest jam jar and go there following a path that seems well marked. For this, they coordinate via pheromones deposited on the ground when they move. The anthill is one of the first forms of collective intelligence studied scientifically (Bonabeau et al 1999). It itself, as a « superorganism », generates forms, such as the paths taken by the ants that compose it.
The concept of collective intelligence is thus closely linked to the notion of stigmergy, a phenomenon of decentralized coordination of a group of individuals via traces left in the environment.
Humanity has been using stigmergic processes for millennia. But these processes have become central to the evolution of our culture since the advent of the web and new technologies. Nowadays, everyone can leave traces visible to humanity as a whole (blog posts, articles, comments, notes, likes, etc.) that are likely to influence the behavior of a large number of congeners, whereever they are on earth.
What forms of collective intelligence emerge as a result of this unprecedented scale change? What traces are left in our digital and natural environments? How can they be represented?
The intuition that this form of collective expression should be treated as a living form in its own right has led us to the question of the modalities of interaction with this organism. The universe of video games and 3D numerical modeling then appeared to us as possible bridges to this collective human-intelligence interaction, and a co-creation with Thibaut Rostagnat and the virtual universes that he develops then imposed itself as an evidence.