Philip Ball speaks about the ‘choreographies’ scientists observe in nature when groups of animals move together without a leader, for example bison, or murmurations of starlings. Philip compares this complex organisation to a computation, relating it to both algorithmic and practical rules which shape outcomes on screen and in urban spaces. This has led to collaborations on dance projects (he mentions his work with Vanessa Grasse and a project in the USA with Susan Marshall) which attempt to recreate these movement patterns from a specific set of rules, transposing this self-organised motion into the human and choreographic space. The discussion then touches on emergent self-organisation, for example, in the growth and design of urban spaces.
This talk was part of Crossing Borders 2017, presented in partnership with London Contemporary Dance School.
Philip Ball is a writer and author, and was previously an editor of the science journal Nature for many years. He writes widely on the sciences and their interactions with the broader culture and with the arts. His books include Critical Mass, Curiosity, Invisible and, most recently, The Water Kingdom: A Secret History of China.
Adapted from bio published in 2017