Isea 2022 - Possibles



June 11 to 16

Screening / Swarm Raid

Authors: Anna Lindemann, Ryan Glista, Emma Komlos-Hrobsky


The music and dance film “Swarm Raid” is a surreal trip to the grocery store inspired by army ant swarm raids. The film draws connections between the ways that humans and army ants find food and reflects on collective behavior and social hierarchy in both ants and humans.


Theme: video, opera, generative music, BioArt, ants

More information:

  • Abstract: “Swarm Raid” acts as an interspecies meditation on social life. In this music and dance film, two of the most social creatures on earth—ants and humans—converge in a surreal trip to the grocery store inspired by the highly coordinated food gathering missions of the army ant species Eciton burchellii. The central character in the film experiences a kind of fever dream borne of social anxiety in which she witnesses crowds of humans becoming ant-like workers bringing offerings of food to their “ant queen,” performed by a virtuosic soprano. The ant queen invokes the refined choreography of the army ants as she sings “Pheromones, show the way! Coordinate the corps, of our Eciton ballet.” Meanwhile, humans dance in and around shopping carts and circle islands of produce in Busby Berkeley-inspired formations. Ultimately, distortions in the speed of the film reveal a manic, ant-like quality to the humans’ search for food. In all, the film draws connections between the ways that humans and ants communicate and find food, and, more importantly, reflects on collective behavior and social hierarchy in ants and humans. 

    “Swarm Raid” was inspired by the Carl and Marian Rettenmeyer Army Ant Guest Collection housed at the University of Connecticut, a world-class natural history collection of more than 2 million specimens. The music for “Swarm Raid” is scored for soprano and custom digital instruments and combines traditional through-composed music with musical textures developed using a generative approach to music composition modeled on biological processes. The film is directed by Anna Lindemann and Ryan Glista. Music by Lindemann; lyrics by Emma Komlos-Hrobsky; performance by soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon, Lindemann, and fifty swarming members of the community. 

  • Biography: Anna Lindemann (co-director, composer, performer) calls herself an Evo Devo artist. Her work combines animation, music, video, and performance to explore the emerging field of Evolutionary Developmental Biology (Evo Devo). Her Evo Devo Art, including the animated short Beetle Bluffs and the art-science performances Theory of Flight and The Colony, has been featured internationally at black box theaters, planetariums, galleries, concert halls, biology conferences, film festivals, digital art conferences, and natural history museums. Anna graduated from Yale with a BS in Biology before receiving an MFA in Integrated Electronic Arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is an Assistant Professor in the Digital Media & Design department at the University of Connecticut where she has pioneered courses integrating art and science.

    Ryan Glista (co-director, editor) is a filmmaker and digital producer with a Film BA and Digital Media and Design MFA from the University of Connecticut. His award-winning short films have screened nationally and internationally. He is a skilled director, photographer, music producer and multi-disciplinary digital artist, working at the intersection of performing arts and new media. Ryan currently works at The Bushnell Center for Performing Arts, directing immersive video installations.

    Emma Komlos-Hrobsky (librettist) is a writer, illustrator, and editor who tells stories at the intersection of the human and the fantastic. Her writing has appeared in Guernica, Hunger Mountain, Conjunctions, Bookforum, Tin House, Hobart, and the Story Collider. Emma received her BA from Wesleyan and her MFA in fiction writing from The New School, where she later taught as a professor in the Riggio Honors Program: Writing and Democracy. Previously Emma served as an editor at Tin House magazine and Tin House Books; she is currently senior editor at Poets & Writers Magazine. She also volunteers as a mentor for Creature Conserve, a nonprofit organization which fosters arts-science collaborations to tell urgent stories about conservation. With the support of a fellowship from the Elizabeth George Foundation, she is at work on a novel about particle physics, family, and the Alps.
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