54″ x 48″     269 brushstrokes     2006

Complex Adaptive System, Ants, Stigmergy,

Anders Zorn and Degas

This painting had its genesis during an artists’ trip to Scandinavia in the summer of 2006. The idea for the color palette came from Anders Zorn’s studio and museum in northern Sweden. His palette used predominantly browns and greens, with a splash of red. The manner of using red in this painting came from a Degas show in Copenhagen where the red leads the viewer’s eye across the painting. The compositional ideas came from earlier studies of Mannerist and Venetian artists in Italy, in specific their use of the embedded curves. There is also a bit of the New York School painter Clyfford Still thrown in.


In this painting, this time Kirby drew on the Santa Fe Institute’s publication Swarm Intelligence: from Natural to Artificial Systems. Rodney Brook’s subsumptive architecture and specific micro-rules had a hand in how the ants and painting evolved. In other words, the ants were given simple rules and the rules made up a complex system that is adaptive, based on the ants behavior. Later, Dulcinea’s programming converts these pebbles deposited by the ants into brushstrokes on the canvas yielding a feeling of spontaneity and movement.



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