Swarming Systems

Following the logic of locusts and bees, 'swarming' is the perfect metaphor for the organization of the elements that saturate contemporary life. 'Swarm,' at Philadelphia's Fabric Workshop and Museum through March 18, includes artists who use diverse methods to engage with our era's ever-changing networks. Yukinori Yanagi looks to nature, employing a colony of live ants that track paths through a dollar bill to critique a human perspective on labor. In a parody of social science, Michal Rovner offers a video projection in a Petri dish that shows suit-clad men converging and disbursing like bacteria. Julie Mehretu contributes one of her signature canvases that resemble political maps with fluid features and whirling borders. Other artists use light projections, new media installations, and a vortex-like mobile made of household objects to reflect the social structures that we live in, including Philly's own beehive of an art scene. - Bill Hanley