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Biology as Computation

Terreform ONE

Towards a map of distribution of future population on Earth.


Terreform ONE group conceived of and filmed the interdisciplinary project of a "Bio City World Map" - the installation presented at the Visualized Conference in New York in 2013 - to display a possible scenario of the future of human population in patterns yet unobserved in typical digital models.

In a 1-minute combination of live-footage documentary, pictures and animations, the video describes how cartographers, urban planners, biologists and architects used "biology as computation" in an installation shaped like the Buckminster Fuller Dymaxion Map to speculate about the future evolution of the twenty five densest cities on the planet in the next hundred years.

By means of bringing together digital graphs, stencils derived from CAD files and colonies of E. Coli as a method of analog computation, this mapping installation didn't use  computer code to mimic growth in nature, but instead was supposed to work as an iterative vehicle of growth itself. With population density as a parametric graph on the front, the backside zoomed in on each bio-based city pattern, designed (and built) inside petri dishes and ideally merged together into a continuous urban growth system. With the basic assumption that, under the right conditions, bacteria behave almost identically to urban population patterns, Terreform ONE architects explored an unexpected, brand new  method to "narrow the gap between idealized mathematical interpretations and observable events in nature".

Authors icon Credits

Video director: Daniel de Wit
Installation: Bio City Map of 11 Billion: World Population in 2110

USA 2013
Duration: 1'50''

The mapping installation has been presented at the Visualized Conference in New York (February 6-7, 2013).