Culture of Ants


Day 2 at El 20. Keywords of the day: Culture of Ants, Roots, Calm Breath before the Leap, Discussion (or no discussion), TEAM, Community

Some days in El20 are slow – this particular one because we were waiting for sand to arrive from Chetumal. This idle time leaves time for interesting discussion to take place – up to the point of some team members preferring to avoid certain topics.

The main architects – or culprits – behind the playful arguments are myself and Heidi, with others feeding ideas into the brainstorm. This is understandable as we perceive the world in quite a different way: I’m a practical engineer and she’s an artistic designer.

One particular topic highlights this well enough to demonstrate what I mean: Do animals have culture? I think the verbal clash of swords started when we observed noises coming from a herd of pigs. Someone commented that they are not sure if the pigs are squealing because of fear or joy. The audio-visual world was very close to the one final scene from the movie Spirited Away. I felt it was joy, maybe it was feeding time.

Somehow – it’s no longer clear how – the topic turned to how sophisticated the societies of different species are. Ants were drawn to the conversation as a prime example. No-one disagreed on the fact that ants have complex constructions (social and physical). The source for discord was the word “culture.” It seems culture represents very different things for the team members: I think of it as a set of rules and habits shared by a group of people or living beings. Heidi on the other hand defined culture through art (at least from my perspective). Do ants create art? Does it count as art if ants do not consider it art? What is the purpose of art? Is trolling a art?

As it turns out, we disagree on these things.


(Photo: Henna Jylhä)


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