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The study of swarm intelligence is de rigueur these days, as advancements in computation allow for ever more complex studies of seemingly independent elements behaving as groups. To Thomas Jackson, however, swarms are also an ever-changing source of inspiration for his art.
In Emergent Behavior (the attached gallery includes new unpublished images), Jackson coaxes scores of disposable objects like keg cups, cheeseballs, glow sticks and Post-it notes into persuasively organic formations. The vast variety of ways that swarms manifest in the world — in the animal kingdom, robotics, biology — affords Jackson a lot of conceptual material to work with.
“It gives me an ability to find inspiration in a focused way,” he says. “I can look at photographs of schools of fish, or flocks of birds, or data swarms, or microorganisms or whatever and really get ideas from that.”
The concept coalesced for Jackson after working with the first two photos of the series — the first portraying shards of broken wooden palettes conspiring to jump over a city sidewalk, the second a matrix of leaves hovering among the trees in an upstate New York forest.