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The Hydra Project – Kuai Shen @ Sonnenstube, Lugano, 10-20 Mar 2016

The Hydra Project – Kuai Shen < Viral Ecologies > at Sonnenstube Offspace, Via Luigi Canonica 12, 6900 Lugano (CH) March 10-20, 2016.

Exhibition, performance, workshops and lecture by Ecuadorian artist Kuai Shen. Curated by Boris Magrini as part of Hackteria’s The Hydra Project.


Kuai Shen – PWA+OI (visual algorithms of ant mimicry in relation to games)

March 10 – 20, 2016

Opening hours: Thursday and Friday: 6-8 pm, Saturday: 2-6 pm

Ecuadorian artist Kuai Shen (born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, 1978), is invited to present a performance, two workshops, a lecture and a video installation at the not-for-profit space Sonnenstube in Lugano, Ticino. His audio-visual installations reflect on the relationship between ants and humans as a metaphor for a post-human ecology.

The video installation, which is on display during the opening hours, is the result of an interdisciplinary project, which began in summer 2014 at the Universidad Nacional in Bogotá. It focuses on similarities between tropical ants and humans based on self-organization and decentralization.



Plectrum: Bioacoustic Ants and Electroacoustic Visions

March 11, 2016, 8pm

Kuai Shen will perform live, together with Argentinian guitar player Auriel. Both performing artists will create visual and music compositions based on the interaction with the ant colony on display, as well as with the use of field recordings.



The Noise of Self-Organization: A Neocybernetic Instrumentation of Ant Collectivity

March 11, 2016, 9.30pm

Following the performance, Kuai Shen will offer a lecture in which he will present his artistic research on ant colonies and their peculiar way of communicating through stridulation, considering an ant colony as a cybernetic organization. He also explores how the patterns of behaviour found in ant colonies can help us to better understand and enrich communication among humans.


Biomimetic Stridulation Environments

March 10, 2016, 6-10 pm

March 12, 2016, 4-8 pm

Important note: each workshop is limited to 10 people. Interested participants are requested to register by Monday, March 7 2016 to:

A workshop in two sessions is offered to anyone interested in understanding more about the devices used by the artist in his work and performances. It will also be an opportunity to learn more about the bioacustic phenomenon of stridulation, typical of ants and many other insects. Stridulation is a means of communication in the form of vibrations that ants produce by scratching their torso and subsequently perceive with their legs. The workshop, given by the artist over the course of two afternoon sessions (the same workshop is given twice, each session is independent), will teach participants how to create piezo-electric microphones, which can be used to amplify the sound of ants and other insects. Additionally, he will demonstrate how sonic experiments can be created using oscillators and signal amplifiers to mimic the acoustic vibrations of ants. Participants will be provided with all the materials needed for the workshop: piezos, audio cables, signal amplifiers (AD 620), oscillators (HEF4093), and DIY recording booths made from recycled materials.


The Hydra Reader #2

Download The Hydra Reader 2.

Download the Folding Instructions for The Hydra Reader.

The Hydra Reader, printed as a compendium to the project, will be distributed during the event. It includes an essay by Kuai Shen, coupled with images of his work. It also includes a fictional, dystopic short story by Berlin-based curator and writer Elisa Rusca. In “Gli Occhiali” Elisa Rusca depicts a future, alienating society heavily regulated by technology. Both Kuai Shen and Elisa Rusca offer analysis and speculations of a fast-approaching trans-human society, but if the Ecuadorian artist sees opportunities to create a more efficient society through the adoption of new paradigms, the Swiss writer seems more pessimistic, warning against and criticising the production of technologies that have the potential to invade and control our private lives. Additionally, the Hydra Reader also includes playful illustrations by Luca Bartulovic. The Hydra Project and the Hydra Reader are curated by Boris Magrini in collaboration with the International Hackteria Society and with Sonnenstube.

Biography of Kuai Shen

Kuai Shen was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador in 1978. He currently lives and works in Cologne, Germany. He is an audiovisual naturalist and holds a BA in digital arts from University San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador, and a Diplom in media arts from the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, and an MA in Game Design and Development from the University of Applied Sciences Cologne. He has published his research about ant stridulation in “Biologically-Inspired Computing for the Arts” from the University of Colorado, in the Leonardo MIT Journal for the Siggraph, as well as in the Acoustic Space Journal published in the context of the 5th Renew Media Art Histories conference. His audiovisual installations reflect on the interspecies relationship between ants and humans as a metaphor for a post-human ecology whose future lies in the mutualism between species and the potential symbiosis between artefacts and organisms. His current research focuses on ant mimicry in the post-biologic technology of humans based on emergence, resiliency and imitation. In 2013 he was awarded the Edith-Russ-Haus Medienkunstpreis, and an honorary mention in hybrid art at the Prix Ars Electronica. He was recently prized with the Cynetart 2014 Förderpreis der Sächsischen Kunstministerin for “Playing with ants & other insects”.

About the hosting venue:  Sonnenstube

Sonnenstube is a not-for-profit cultural space in Via Luigi Canonica 12, Lugano (CH). Born out of the encounter of five people with a passion for visual arts, Sonnenstube is a space dedicated to contemporary art and music. Sonnenstube, which literally means “sunny room”, is a term used in the German speaking area of Switzerland to describe the Canton Ticino. Sonnenstube was created by Marta Margnetti (1989, artist), Damiano Merzari (1980, graphic designer and musician), Sébastien Peter (1984, art historian), Gabriel Stöckli (1992, artist), Gianmaria Zanda (1985, artist and musician).

Thanks to: Migros-Kulturprozent, Città di Lugano

Contact: Boris Magrini, +41 76 571 24 27,

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