Stigmergy Works

Stigmergy is used by bees, ants, and computer devices as a means of indirect coordination where rather that directly speaking to one another, members of the hive leave traces in the environment for others to find and pass on. This way of organizing can reinforce group behaviors without agents having any direct awareness of one another.

In 2016, I was quite obsessed with this concept and how humans use stigmergy as well. My exploration resulted in a few works and series related to the concept, some of which contain hidden messages.

Royal Jelly, Fertile Queen

Photographs of performance

This documentation from a performance I did throughout neighborhood streets in San Francisco. I journeyed from the urban jungle of suburbia to the expansive calm of the Pacific Ocean wearing a beekeeping suit. Humans through our digital devices communicate using stigmergy, or an indirect network, which is also found to be used by bees and ants through “waggle dances” and chemical trails. By wearing the beekeeping suit, I am creating a situation where I am an observer of humanity in its hive like world rather than a participant. 

Hello World Series

Wax, melted fiber optic cable, and pigment on wood panel
Dimensions varied, most 48" x 36"

With my melted fiber optic and wax pieces, I was thinking quite a lot about stigmergy, a mechanism of indirect coordination employed by bees, ants, and humans. These two pieces were out of the original series I did with the unique materials. I particularly enjoyed the organic nature of melted fiber optic cable, which in its intended purpose carries light to transmit data across the internet. By melting it, I reinforced the physical and biological nature of how we use the internet.

You’ll notice hidden 0s and 1s in these pieces. The binary code translates to ‘hello world,’ which was the first code written on a computer, and the start of humans acting more like bees in our internet communities.

Fiber Optic Snake Oil

Wax, melted fiber optic cable, and pigment on wood panel
Dimensions varied, most 12" x 12"

These wall hangings are from the second series I did with melted fiber optic cable and beeswax called Fiber Optic Snake Oil. I am fascinated by the organic-like pliability of the fiber optic material which is normally used to power the internet and transmit data. I enjoy object making, and by using these materials I am reminding myself that all that is digital has a foundation in our physical and natural world.


Acrylic, spray paint, wax, on wood panel
Dimensions varied, either 48" x 36" or 8 x 8”

These paintings are from a series I did around the time the Salesforce Tower was erected in downtown San Francisco. The newest building in the city took the tallest building title and was often referred to by its local residents as a massive dick in the San Francisco skyline because of its phallic shape. To me, it is also a display of power and financial influence by the technology giant. In the paintings there are is binary code either written directly on the canvas or created through a color system. 00100100 is the 8-byte code for the money sign ($).