I connect flys
Performers - lucilia sericata
Performers – lucilia sericata
live video installation

Flies in a frame are beeing tracked with a camera system. A software analyzes the position of each fly and connects the positions with lines. The resulting image is projected beside the frame. If the flies are moving inside the frame, the lines are moving corresponding to the position of the flies in the frame. The projected lines sometimes form three dimensional objects which seem to turn, just beeing flat line patterns or flickering chaos, depending of the activitiy of the flies.

Performers is painting line patterns resulting from the position of flies in a frame. The flies are moving in a brightly lighted, clean environment. The software is written by myself and based on openFrameworks. The backlight of the frame is build out of special acrylic and led light tubes.

When flies appear inside the cameras field of view, a blobtracking algorithm is extracting the position of each fly. The industry standard camera is able to record fast movements without losing tracking. Now the position of each fly is being connected by a thin, black line on white background. The resulting image is projected beside the frame, and you are able to see what’s between the animals.

Depending the activity of the flies, the patterns vary, but will always show the pure connections between the flies. Sometimes visitors tend to recognize perspective patterns, like diamond-like structures or even rotating simple three-dimensional bodies. Often a moment of enchantment happens, that these beautiful structures are “only” the in-between connection of the flies.

Visitors quote

We live in a world, where everything is explainable through numbers. Behaviouralism seems to be the answer. Recent breakthroughs in artificial intelligence could put us as humans in the place of complex machines, processing a huge input vector. Some researchers say, it’s only a matter of scaling computing power. Some say we lose ourselves for the sake of some techno-utopia-nightmare.

The installation discusses our perspective of complex systems and systems theory, questioning chance, and the perception of our surroundings. Are the patterns random? What would the fly answer? Is there a repeating pattern in the movement over time?

“Performers” is also an experiment, putting you in the role of a neutral supervisor over the community of flies in their very unnatural habitat, letting you watch the beautiful dance of statistics, created by numbers.
Also, this work refers to concrete art. While my task as an artist is, to provide the technical equipment and surrounding, the patterns and aesthetics are not manipulated by me. In the very end this is done by the flies/nature. It is a live abstraction of the complex movement of the flies.


The installation requires a projection area, ideally near the frame to let visitors see the connection between the moving flies and the movement of the lines. Also the camera needs to be positioned at a place where visitors can’t disturb the tracking. The software is written by myself and based on openFrameworks. The backlight of the frame is build out of special acrylic and led light tubes.