Published by Anne-Florence Neveu at 2021-07-20 13:30

Is This Life? / Process update 2

We covered the physical part of Hrvoje Hiršl's installation in an earlier post, now let's have a look at the actual pattern of movements that will rule and give life to our spherical robots!

Algorithmic flock

The algorithm controlling the movement of the robots is being developed by LARICS Lab from the University of Zagreb. For the organisation of the robots, we will use a Boid algorithm following Rainold rules. Craig Reynolds is an American computer engineer specialised in computer graphics and modelling of artificial life. Most of his work is based on procedural computer programs that simulate the behaviour of large groups of animals. In 1986, he created a computer model for animation movements of animals in flocks (such as birds or fish). He called these generic units used as autonomous agents boids (bird-oid object, "bird-like object”).

How does it work?

The individuals in the swarm/flock are autonomous agents. They have a limited ability to perceive the environment - an agent can observe other agents only if they are within a limited distance. They independently process the information received from the environment and make decisions based on it. There is no leader to define the behaviour of the group.
Autonomous agents create robust systems that can easily adapt to changes in their environment. Each agent changes its behaviour based on a set of three simple rules:

  • Alignment: adjusting the direction and amount of speed.
  • Cohesion: forming groups with nearby individuals.
  • Separation: avoiding crowds and maintaining space.

Boids is only one of many experiments in what is known as the field of swarm intelligence. In the field of swarm robotics, tasks like mapping or foraging make use of boids simulations. This is because these tasks lend themselves well to be solved by a group of small robots. The installation Is this Life? will use the same principles to create intricate interactions between robots and the audience.

For more information about LARICS Lab please check out:

Hrvoje Hiršl


Hrvoje Hiršl is an artist, researcher and designer. His artistic research focuses on the intersection of contemporary art and media art discourse. The recurrent themes of his work include limitations of the medium, automation, complex systems and cybernetics. He is interested in revealing hidden structures and principles and developing strategies to make them visible. His work encompasses sound installations, video installations, interactive installations, prints, etc.

He was nominated for the Radoslav Putar Award for the best Croatian artist under 35 in 2012 and was one of the representatives for Croatia at the Design Biennale in London in 2016. He is currently working on a book for the Institute of Network Cultures in Amsterdam to be published in 2021.