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This installation will create the experience of interacting with a flock of friendly butterflies. As the visitor approaches the installation, they see a woodsy scene with butterflies flying around. The visitor’s shadow appears cast on the projection. The butterflies will react to the shadow, and try to approach.

These butterflies are “alive” and they like people, they grow healthier with human contact, but can be harmed by sudden movement. The butterflies will learn overtime to interact with the visitors to have the most human contact. Overtime, butterflies may fade away.

We’re interested in what kind of behavior the butterflies will learn, what patterns if any may emerge, and if the behavior will change overtime depending on the behavior of the visitors.


–        Word rain


–        existing set-up of black and white camera and projectorbutterfly-fly21

–        computer ( we will bring this)


–        The installation can detect the presence of a visitor

–        Each fly learns how best to behave near a shadow

Machine Learning:

–        each butterfly will learn through the course of its life to optimize the amount of human touches that it can get.


–        butterflies that individually learn to stay close to humans.

Questions to explore:

–        Is there a reason to pick random flight?

–        Include speed in actions

–        Include more states: distance to shadow (allow more long-range decisions)

–        How quickly will butterflies learn?

–        Allow system to keep working when no-one is around (so not all butterflies die out)

–        Showing that a butterfly has “grown” or is healthier

–        Will there be significant change in their learning from interacting with new visitors?

–        Will new butterflies be created that maintain the learning in the system? Will new butterflies be created naïve to show the learning behavior again?

Ideas on hold:

–        Healthy butterflies would be able to mate and produce children that share a combination of their learned behaviors that made their parents fit

–        More active interference with the butterflies’ health using specific gestures like a cupped hand to “feed” and a fist to “net” the butterflies.


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