Wayfinding is a socially oriented sculpture and event based artwork that speaks to the concept of the hive mind and the ability of superorganisms such as honeybees and humankind to achieve a collective intelligence far greater than that of their individual members.
The title Wayfinding is a metaphorical reference to the ways we orient and navigate through our environment and the ways honeybee scouts and foragers communicate to their sisters how to find the food sources and new home sites that will ensure their survival.
Just as a honeybee colony depends on its scout bees to lead their collective decision making (often meaning life or death for the entire colony) humans depend on the wisdom of their researchers and experts to influence critical collective choices with similar life or death consequences. Decentralized yet collective decision making is what enables us and the bees to perform as a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
For each iteration of Wayfinding I invite an expert (human equivalent of a scout bee) to join me on a bee hunting expedition and we record our conversation. I like to think that while we discuss the nuances of the topics that interest my guests and may shape the course of human history, we gain a glimpse of self awareness from our appreciation that the bees right next to us are doing the same thing.
The various apparatus present in the exhibition and used in the field were created to assist in a honeybee hunt. Sometimes called "beelining", hunting honeybees involves finding foraging honeybees and interesting them in some sugar syrup bait and then spending the next several hours or days using patience and technique to trace them back to the tree where the wild colony lives. Historically this would often end when the bee hunters found the bee tree and harvested the honey inside the wild hive. Today it is practiced by a small number of enthusiasts primarily as a sort of sport or challenging treasure hunt and the wild colonies are left in peace.
In the gallery setting, Wayfinding includes a set of bluetooth headphones that play back the recorded conversation.
Detail image of the specially designed honeybee observation stand. The stand holds a piece of honeycomb that is filled with fragrant sugar syrup to attract the honeybees.
Bees from a nearby hive drinking the nectar they were trained to inside the bee box.
Bee hunting equipment in the field.