“Swarm Raid” (2019) video, 4 min 22 s
Directed by Anna Lindemann and Ryan Glista
Music composed by Anna Lindemann
Lyrics by Emma Komlos-Hrobsky
Music performed by Lucy Fitz Gibbon
ANNA LINDEMANN (“Swarm Raid” co-director, composer, performer) calls herself an Evo Devo artist. Her work combines animation, music, video, and performance to explore the field of Evolutionary Developmental Biology (Evo Devo). Her work has been featured internationally at film festivals, black box theaters, planetariums, galleries, concert halls, digital art conferences, and natural history museums. She graduated from Yale with a BS in Biology before receiving an MFA in Integrated Electronic Arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Digital Media & Design Department at the University of Connecticut where she has pioneered courses integrating art and science. www.annalindemann.com
RYAN GLISTA (“Swarm Raid” co-director, editor) is a filmmaker, composer, and digital media producer with a BA in Film and an MFA in Digital Media & Design from the University of Connecticut. His award-winning short films have screened nationally and internationally. As founder of the UConn Film Club he led teams of undergraduate students in creating short films, and developed a long-lasting community of filmmakers. He is currently the Digital Project Manager at The Bushnell Center for Performing Arts. www.ryanglista.com
The music and dance video “Swarm Raid” is a surreal trip to the grocery store inspired by army ant swarm raids. The film was inspired by the Carl and Marian Rettenmeyer Army Ant Guest Collection housed at the University of Connecticut, an amazing collection of more than 2 million specimens gathered over 50 years of field research in Central and South America.
One of the interesting behaviors of army ants is their collective mode of gathering food via a swarm raid. In the “swarm raider” species Eciton burchelli, tens of thousands of worker and soldier ants fan out in different directions from their central nest site (known as a bivouac) in search of food. Eventually, the swarm forms one massive swarm raid column, reinforced with pheromone paths, that flushes out promising food sources — crickets, cockroaches, larvae from other species — that the swarming ants bring back to feed the whole colony.
The “Swarm Raid” video draws connections between the ways that humans and ants find food, but more importantly it reflects on collective behavior and social hierarchy in ants and humans. The video reveals this social hierarchy through a kind of fever dream borne of social anxiety, as the central character in the video witnesses crowds of humans becoming ant-like workers bringing offerings of food to their ant queen, performed by a virtuosic soprano.
In addition to being a statement about collectivity, the process of creating “Swarm Raid” involved a multidisciplinary creative team and an invigorating sense of community. “Swarm Raid” was shot at the Price Chopper grocery store in Storrs, CT, and the video involves around fifty dancers drawn from members of the community — including students, artists, and scientists. “Swarm Raid” is part of a larger performance called The Colony that incorporates live musical and spoken performance and projected animations. www.thecolony.show