Emergent Behavior: Objects Swarm Like Insects in Photo Series

Like bees, birds or a plague of locusts, they swarm: bright objects, often jarring in their artificiality, against the backdrop of woods or the sea. Photographer Thomas Jackson plays on the visuals of biological swarms using plastic cups and plates in natural settings, and leaves in urban settings, in his series ‘Emergent Behavior.’

The way the objects come together in Jackson’s photographs, you can easily imagine them animating and convening the same way that creatures do in nature. Some of the items are the kind of trash that you would typically see littering the streets, like plastic plates or pieces of wooden pallets.

“The hovering sculptures featured in this ongoing series of photographs are inspired by self-organizing, “emergent” systems in nature such as mounts, swarming locusts, schooling fish and flocking birds. The images attempt to tap into the fear and fascination that those phenomena tend to evoke, while creating an uneasy interplay between the natural and the manufactured and the real and the imaginary.”



“At the same time, each image is an experiment in juxtaposition. By constructing the pieces from unexpected materials and placing them in environments where they seem least to belong. I aim to tweak the margins of our visual vocabulary, and to invite fresh interpretations of everyday things.”

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