Julie Freeman: A Selfless Society

  • ©, Julie Freeman

  • ©, Julie Freeman



    A Selfless Society



    Animation, Web Portal, and Website


Artist Statement:

    A Selfless Society prompts us to think about the role of gender and gender expectations in society. In an era when population increase, climate change, and the ideal of the nuclear family are putting pressure on the environment, on the affordability of everyday life, and human well-being, do we need to actively evolve our social structures? Naked mole-rats are altruistic eusocial and are mammals with an arguably utopian lifestyle. Like other eusocial organisms such as honeybees or ants, naked mole-rats’ society is structured around a single breeding female. Other community members help to raise the young, provide food and protect the home. A Selfless Society is an abstract animation influenced by real-time data from a live naked mole-rat colony. It uses data as an art material–exploring how we can take a quantified measurement and turn it into an experience, a moment of contemplation. Creating work with real-time data from living systems can stimulate a connection to nature in unpredictable ways. The technologies open a communication channel from the animal to us so that what we hear, see and feel is dynamically agitated by these non-human agents. Technology is not neutral in this process, it is designed, sculpted and scripted; the data translated by the artists’ hand. However tightly controlled the process, there is a gap–space for the animals to fill and a place that cannot be synthesized. It is this gap that the naked mole-rats featured in A Selfless Society gnaw on to create a work with an edge of vulnerability. As we observe the colony’s activity patterns, we are invited to consider what we might stand to gain or lose were we to restructure human society in this way. We may question whether we, like naked mole-rats, could become eusocial, and consider how this would alter the expectations of our own gender identities, actions, or motivations.

    The work is a part of a collaborative project called Rodent Activity Transmission systems (http://RAT.systems), with Dr. Chris Faulkes, Marcin Ignac (variable.io), and Matt Jarvis.



Julie Freeman – A Selfless Society from ACM SIGGRAPH on Vimeo.

Other Information:

    Issues: Art+Science, Gender, and Research


All Works by the Artist(s) in This Archive: