The Physarum Experiments

Working with an intelligent organism

March 26, 7:30pm – 9:30pm
Location: Genspace
Talk, then Workshop


“[In] trying to understand systems that use relatively simple components to build higher-level intelligence, the slime mould may someday be seen as the equivalent of the finches and tortoises that Darwin observed on the Galápagos Islands” (Steven Johnson, Emergence 2001)

Join artist Heather Barnett to discover the fascinating role this single celled organism has to play in the culture of both science and art, and participate in a practical experiment to create the ideal creative environment for it to grow.

Physarum polycephalum is a small yellow microorganism that displays primitive intelligence, problem solving skills and memory. It is used as a model organism in many areas of research including emergence, adaptation and robotics. It also makes for a great creative collaborator: kept dark and damp and fed on a diet of porridge oats, it will grow in beautiful dendritic patterns whilst foraging for food.


HeatherBarnett_PSHeather Barnett is a visual artist, researcher and educator working with biological systems and scientific processes. With interests ranging across medicine, psychology, perception and visualisation, projects have included microbial portraiture, cellular wallpapers, performing cuttlefish and self-organising installations. She is a National Teaching Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Photographic Arts at the University of Westminster, London, UK, where she is project lead on the Broad Vision art/science research and learning programme. Heather is also Creative Director of the biologically inspired design company, micro-designs.

Leave A Comment