ECTA (2) – Swarm Art with KANTS

The second paper we have presented last weekend in Barcelona (ECTA 2012), with the title “Pherogenic Drawings” (C.M. Fernandes, A.M. Mora, J.J. Merelo, A.C.Rosa), is about swarm art and describes the application of the KANTS algorithm, an ant-clustering algorithm created by our group in 2008, to data extracted from sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) signals.

We execute KANTS on a set of Hjorth parameters extracted from the EEG of sane adult humans. In the end of the run, we translate the environmental vectors of the algorithm into an RGB image. The resulting drawings are different for each patient, since the ants, in this algorithm, are the data samples, which communicate via the environmental grid of vectors and change that same environment. Therefore, a pherogenic (from pheromone+genesis) drawing is a signature of a person’s night sleep.

The results are contextualized within the swarm and generative art — a contemporary trend that blends art, science, technology — and within my own work on generative art (check the project that won the last GECCO’s competition on Evolutionary Art, Design and Creativity, also created with KANTS). The abstract:

Social insects and stigmergy have been inspiring several significant artworks and artistic concepts that question the borders and nature of creativity. Such artworks, which are usually based on emergent properties of autonomous systems and go beyond a centralized human authorship, are a part of a contemporary trend known as generative art. This paper addresses generative art and presents a set of images generated by an ant-based clustering algorithm that uses data samples as artificial ants. These ants interact via the environment and generate abstract paintings. The algorithm, called KANTS, consists of a simple set of equations that model the local behavior of the ants (data samples) in a way that, when travelling on a heterogeneous 2-dimensional lattice of vectors, they tend to form clusters according to the class of each sample. The algorithm was previously proposed for clustering and classification. In this paper, KANTS is used outside a purely scientific framework and it is applied to data extracted from sleep-Electroencephalogram (EEG) signals. With such data sets, the lattice vectors have three variables, which are used for generating the RGB values of a colored image. Therefore, from the actions of the swarm on the environment, we get 2-dimensional colored abstract sketches of human sleep. We call these images pherogenic drawings, since the data used for creating the images are actually the pheromone maps of the ant algorithm. As a creative tool, the method is contextualized within the swarm art field.

Ant the presentation:

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Carlos M. Fernandes was born in Luanda in 1973 and lives in between Lisbon, Portugal, and Granada, Spain. He graduated (Technical University of Lisbon, 1998) in Electrotechnics Engineering and owns a master degree in the same field since 2002 (Technical University of Lisbon). He is currently pursuing a Ph.d. on Bio-inspired Computing. From 2001 to 2005 he was an assistant at Instituto Politécnico de Setúbal. (He is also a photographer and photography teacher.) Bio-inspired Computing is his major field of research: Genetic Algorithms, Estimation of Distribution Algorithms, Ant Colony Optimization, Particle Swarm Optimization and other metaheuristics. He is particularly interested in the hybridization of Bio-inspired Computing techniques with Self-Organization, Self-Organized Criticality Models and diversity maintenance strategies. In the present, Dynamic Optimization Problems are his mains target for applying such techniques. website: email:

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