Robin Meier

"Materia Attiva"

Project Info

Project Description


Materia Attiva

Active Matter is a term borrowed from physics to describe large groups of animals as a kind of liquid, building on theories from fluid dynamics to understand and predict their collective behaviour.

Since the exhibition The Tragedy of the Commons putting on display a colony of Brazilian leaf cutter ants at Palais de Tokyo in 2011, Meier Wiratunga continued to study and document the collective intelligence of ants in cities, fields, forests and desertsaround the world.

With entomologists in Brazil he developed a technique to create artificial pheromone trails as a means of rewriting the ants collective spatial memory.

In parallel, he refined a method to permanently record the fleeting collective movements of ants, using soot covered glass sheets and heat-activated resin. The resulting patterns are like brain scans, proto-photographic traces of the the colony’s collective mind.



Artist and composer Robin Meier Wiratungastrives to understand how humans, insects, swarms and objects think. With a bag of tricks from sound and science, he composes thinking tools made with singing mosquitoes, synchronized fireflies, metronomes, choreographed ants, neural network, and flute carry-ing pigeons. Conducted in close collaboration with specialists and scientific labs, his work blens machine learning with animal intelligence.

Arranging human, animal and nonbiological actors into constellation-like scores, he creates environments and conditions for musical patterns to spontaneously emerge.Meier Wiratunga has a master’s degree in cognitive philosophy from EHESS, Paris, France.

He has been a music producer at IRCAM / Centre Pompidou since 2006, has taught sound arts at Bern Academy of the Arts in Switzerland since 2021, and has been a fellow of the Istituto Svizzero in Rome since 2018. His projects have been shown at Palais de Tokyo (2009, 2011) and Centre Pompidou (2021) in Paris, the Shanghai Biennale (2016), Art Basel (2015), and Colomboscope in Colombo (2019).

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