Insect Media: Bee Behavior

In chapter five of Insect Media, titled Animal Ensembles, Robotic Effects: Bees, Milieus, and Individuation, Jussi Parikka discusses the use of insect ecologies as life-form examples of cybernetics and communication. The Cybernetics conferences that took place after World War II discussed multiple animal species, but insects were favored because of their “less brainy but complex modes of action, behavior, perception, and not least, communication” (Parikka 124). There is a particular portion of this text that reminded me of the interaction that takes place in my ecology, the flea market, and it’s something I have been struggling to articulate since my research began.

Bee interaction is not as simple as one body interacting with another. The environment of the hive impacts the in-between space of those bodies, and we call this affect. The bees, therefore, “are not representational entities but machinological becomings, to be contextualized in terms of their capabilities of perceiving and grasping the environmental fluctuations as part of their organizational structures.” Bees respond and adapt to the continuous affect, and therefore interaction between two bodies involves the entire environment.

In the flea market, where one is inundated by voices, details, textures, smells, and a myriad of other sensory elements, any given transaction is never just between the buyer and the vendor. The buyer trusts, perhaps subconsciously, in the genuineness of the merchandise–that, depending on the category of product, it is unique, handmade, vintage, local, etc. It would be different if the vendor ran the booth outside of the flea market, say perhaps on a sidewalk away from other businesses. Far fewer people would stop. But because the vendor is registered, and the buyer intentionally walked into the flea market, that environment affects the interaction between the two entities and a sale is made.

Location, placement, and arrangement within the market is also a key component of affect. For example, while a buyer stands in line for the empanadas, he or she inspects the adjacent booth and perhaps chooses to buy something there too. Or if a booth is surrounded by a thick crowd of people, other buyers might choose to pass by to avoid that crowd. Or, if a booth is playing music that appeals to the buyer, their attention may be drawn that way. Or, if the heat of the day is too overwhelming, buyers might linger in the market for less time. All of these scenarios affect the sale; the in-between space of a buyer and vendor.

– Sara

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~ by saralradin on April 1, 2014.

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