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Fly Blimps, image by David Bowen

Fly Blimps

This installation consists of a series of 3 autonomous helium filled blimps whose movements are determined by small swarms of houseflies. The flies are essentially the brain of each of the devices, determining how they interact and respond to the space and the other devices. Up to 50 houseflies live within chambers attached to each blimp unit. These chambers contain food, water and light needed to keep the flies alive and active. The chambers also contain sensors that detect the changing light patterns produced by the movements of the flies. In real-time the sensors send this information to an on board microcontroller which activates motors connected to propellers which move the devices based on the predilections of the flies. The floating, wandering blimps are separate but intersecting community vehicles. The flies exist in their own self-contained and self-sustaining worlds, collectively creating an amplified and exaggerated expression of group behavior.


David Bowen

David Bowen’s Media Artwork is concerned with aesthetics that result from interactive, reactive and generative processes as they relate to intersections between natural and mechanical systems. His work has been exhibited at Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz, Austria; Centre for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona, Spain; Somerset House, London, UK; Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany; Americas Gallery, New York, NY; Fundación Telefónica, Madrid, Spain; Saint-Ex Centre Culturel Numérique, Reims, France; Buda Factory, Kortrijk, Belgium; Friche la Belle de Mai, Marseille, France; Shanghai Contemporary Art Museum, Shanghai, China; Museum of Art, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea; and Ars Electronica, Berlin, Germany. He received a McKnight Visual Arts Fellowship, Minneapolis, MN (2014) and an Artist Initiative Grant, Minnesota State Arts Board, St. Paul, MN. Bowen is currently an Associate Professor of Sculpture and Physical Computing at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. He received his BFA from Herron School of Art, and his MFA from the University of Minnesota.