Swarm brings together works that express swarming as a social effect generated by masses of objects, images, data, or organisms. The fascination with swarming reflects a contemporary view of nature, politics, and social life–one that favors unplanned and decentralized modes of organization. The exhibition combines emerging and historically significant artists, revealing a series of unlikely and previously unimagined relationships between artists who have not been connected before. These artists include Ronan + Erwan Bouroullec, Mark Bradford, Fernando + Humberto Campana, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Peter Kogler, Julie Mehretu, Paul Pfeiffer, C.E.B. Reas, Matthew Ritchie, Michal Rovner, Jason Salavon, Shahzia Sikander, Sarah Sze, Fred Tomaselli, Siebren Versteeg, and Yukinori Yanagi.
Swarm theory is an idea animating contemporary art, science, design, digital media, and social theory. "Swarm logic" is seen in works that use vast numbers of small parts to create systems whose final behavior or effect cannot be wholly predicted. Artists working with computers and new media construct rules that draw together data and generate behaviors that evolve over time. Sculptors and painters create structures and patterns based on the interrelationships and inherent properties of individual elements. Swarm connects the social life of bees, birds, crowds, and cities to contemporary aesthetics, as seen in the fascination of artists and designers with how simple, discrete units accumulate into complex systems.
About the Curators
Abbott Miller is a designer, editor, and art director. He is a partner in the New York office of the international design firm Pentagram, where his clients include the Guggenheim Museum, Harley-Davidson, The Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna, and Knoll. He is editor and art director of the visual and performing arts magazine 2wice, and Creative Director of Steuben Glass. He has designed numerous books, magazines, and exhibitions, and is co-author with Ellen Lupton of Design Writing Research (1996) and The Bathroom, the Kitchen, and the Aesthetics of Waste (1992). He teaches design at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore.
Ellen Lupton is a writer, curator, and graphic designer. She is director of the MFA program in graphic design at MICA in Baltimore. She also is curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York City, where she has organized numerous exhibitions–each accompanied by a major publication–including the National Design Triennial series (2000 and 2003), Skin: Surface, Substance + Design (2002), Graphic Design in the Mechanical Age (1999), Mixing Messages (1996), and Mechanical Brides: Women and Machines from Home to Office (1993).
Catalog available from The Fabric Workshop and Museum Shop