The Fly Printer, Extended


Session Title:

  • Technoanimal

Presentation Title:

  • The Fly Printer, Extended



  • The Fly Printer – Extended is a second edition of a printing apparatus in a form of a closed environment that contains a flock of fruit flies. The flies eat special food that is prepared for them that is mixed with laser printer inks. The flies digest the food and print different color dots onto the paper that is placed under the fly habitat. The new version of the Fly Printer, which is currently in progress, incorporates a technological vision (a camera) and neural network learning software (DNNs). The purpose of the set-up is to juxtapose a human perception with a technological perception through a system that incorporates living organisms (flies, and human-observers) and evolving technology (DNNs). The developed technological system ironically addresses the over-interpretation problem present in the DNNs; in which evolved images that have became unrecognizable to humans, are interpreted with over 99% certainty by the DNNs to be recognizable objects.

    In the Fly Printer – Extended the human, technology and non-humans create an ambiguous circle of interpretations. The work plays with the technological over-interpretation and points out how human abilities are considered the point of reference in technological developments. The Fly Printer – Extended is an artistic experiment that tests out a situation where human agency is playing in the background as the developer of technology, but when standing concretely beside the work the human can primarily observe the living organisms producing the dots and technology independently interpreting the results. The work does not allow control over the flies or the printing surface. In other words the images produced with this techno-organic device are uncontrollable – they are random traces of biological processes. What is the purpose of a machine or an artifact, like the Fly Printer, that produces images that have no meaning for humans before intelligent technology interprets them?

    The recent extended version of the Fly Printer containing the technological perception and DNNs is collaboration between Laura Beloff and Malene Theres Klaus.