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“Biomodd” by Angelo Vermeulen, et al

Biomodd is a collaborative art project conceived to challenge presumed notions of opposition between nature and technology in different cultures throughout the world. The title Biomodd came up spontaneously as a working title, but very rapidly came to embody the nature of the project and naturally became the final title.

Biomodd is predicated on a set of themes:

Symbiosis between biological and electronic systems. In Biomodd, nature and technology are not juxtaposed but rather fused into imaginative hybrid installations. The core idea is the creation of experimental systems in which modified computer networks coexist with living ecosystems. The challenge is to bring biological life as physically close to the electronics as possible, and allow them to communicate with each other through meaningful symbiotic relationships.

E-waste and its creative reuse. Electronic waste is one of the most problematic consequences of digital technology. In addition to conventional e-waste recycling, reusing old hardware for art projects provides another mechanism for dealing with the growing problem of e-waste. In addition, after showcasing the result each hybrid installation is fully disassembled, and its components are re-used and recycled. Biological life is adopted by collaborators or taken back to nature.

Case modding. Biomodd’s name derives in part from the practice of case modding, a primary inspiration of Biomodd. The case modding scene is a very active and creative subculture, something that operates way beyond the boundaries of contemporary art. In Biomodd such subcultures are explored from an artistic point of view; the project is inspired by the codes and methods that make up such cultural practices. The idea of case modding is approached as a form of expanded sculpture. In this sculptural approach a “functional” form factor is not imperative; rather, it’s about building a structure that is both sculpture and a functioning computer. In Biomodd, the functionality of the computer is co-opted by recycling the heat it emits by building an ecosystem inside the structure living along with the electronics.

Digital games and gaming culture. Biomodd highlights the social nature of gaming and game culture. Each installation can function as a gaming station for a fully working multi-player game.

Collaboration and co-creation. The design of each Biomodd installation is achieved through the exchange of ideas between all participants. Biomodd is explicitly a collaborative effort. This collaborative nature is situated on two levels. On a first level we work with teams and every individual within the group is empowered to add something substantial to the work. This is why the project begins with a solely conceptual focus, and grows organically from there. On a second level the work is recreated in different places throughout the world, each time with different people.

Juxtaposing the local and the global. Biomodd is a nomadic project in which subsequent versions are built with different collaborators and new materials. Each version reflects the cultural and social conditions in which it was created and is a reinterpretation of the original concept. However, selected parts of previous versions are always integrated into each new installation. In this way all versions are conceptually and physically connected, independent of time or location.

Open sourcing. We encourage the use of open source operating system (Linux) and open source game software in order to extend the modification possibilities for the art work as far as possible. The Biomodd project itself has also taken an open source nature. For instance, instructions for creating your own Biomodd are available on the site. New iterations of Biomodd have been led by other individuals, such as the [M]Biomodd, the version built for the 2009 Youth for IT conference created by students of UPOU, and the [C]Biomodd, led by Al-Francis Librero.
Biomodd so far

Originally conceived by Belgian new media artist Angelo Vermeulen, two large-scale versions of Biomodd have been completed: Biomodd [ATH1] in Athens, Ohio was built between September 2007 and January 2008, and was nominated for an ARS Electronica Hybrid Art award in 2008 (www.biomodd.net/ath1). The more monumental second iteration, Biomodd [LBA2], was created in Los Banos, Philippines between February and October 2009 and was co-led by Angelo Vermeulen and Diego Maranan. In 2010, after completion of Biomodd [LBA2], Angelo was granted a a TED Fellowship in part because of his work on the Biomodd series.


TED Fellow 2010 Angelo Vermeulen explains the wonders and complexities of his extraordinary project Biomodd – a computer system with a living ecosystem inside of it.


Nov 7, 12:42
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