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Working in various media including printmaking and film, Susan Aldworth has developed an extensive body of work that explores the nature of human consciousness and identity. Through blending personal and scientific narratives, Aldworth aims to challenge conventional definitions of portraiture through an examination of the internal structure of our brains. From the intricate details of the micro-circuits formed by billions of brain cells, to the output signals that the brain generates and which are recorded through the scanning process and reflect our conscious experience. By its very nature, neuroscience offers a unique bridge between the disciplines of art and science, in its pursuit of understanding human consciousness. Likewise, Aldworth advocates the internal person as a proper subject of portraiture in the light of contemporary neuroscience and the consequent understanding of what it is to be human, and how we articulate these findings via our own creative and expressive means. [text from The Portrait Anatomised, LSE Arts, 2010]



Transition behavior of one Artificial Ant Colony in presence of a sudden change in his artificial digital image Habitat, between two different Digital Grey Images (face of Einstein and a Map). Created with an Artificial Ant Colony, that uses images as Habitats, being sensible to their gray levels [in, V. Ramos, F. Almeida, “Artificial Ant Colonies in Digital Image Habitats – a mass behavior effect study on Pattern Recognition“, ANTS’00 Conf., Brussels, Belgium, 2000].

After “Einstein face” is injected as a substrate at t=0, 100 iterations occur. At this point you could recognize the face. Then, a new substrate (a new “environmental condition”) is imposed (Map image). The colony then adapts quickly to this new situation, losing their collective memory of past contours.

In white, the higher levels of pheromone (a chemical evaporative sugar substance used by swarms on their orientation trough out the trails). It’s exactly this artificial evaporation and the computational ant collective group synergy reallocating their upgrades of pheromone at interesting places, that allows for the emergence of adaptation and “perception” of new images. Only some of the 6000 iterations processed are represented. The system does not have any type of hierarchy, and ants communicate only in indirect forms, through out the successive alteration that they found on the Habitat. If you however, inject Einstein image again as a substrate, the whole ant society will converge again to it, but much faster than the first time, due to the residual memory distributed in the environment.

As a whole, the system is constantly trying to establish a proper compromise between memory (past solutions – via pheromone reinforcement) and novel ones in order to adapt (new conditions on the habitat, through pheromone evaporation). The right compromise, ables the system to tackle two contradictory situations: keeping some memory while learning something radically new. Antagonist features such as exploration and exploitation are tackled this way.

[...] People should learn how to play Lego with their minds. Concepts are building bricks [...] V. Ramos, 2002.

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