Swarm Wall

“Swarm Wall” a 42×14 feet installation in the CU Art Museum

“Swarm Wall” is a 42×14 feet installation by media-artists Michael Theodore on display in the CU Art Museum during Summer 2012. The installation consists of 70 identical controllers that are locally networked with their neighbors. Each controller drives a servo motor and shares its angle with its local neighbors. Depending on the “mood” of the wall, each controller continuously calculates the angle of its servo as a weighted sum of its neighbors. The underlying math is inspired by the flocking behavior of social animals (birds, mosquitos, and fish) and has been designed by Ken Sugawara.

Backview showing the distributed computing architecture.

The lowest row of the control boards is equipped with an ultrasound distance sensor that can detect motion up to 6m range. Which behavior each control board selects is a function of whether it detects the presence of people or not.  This behavior influences the motion of neighboring servo motors, as the controllers are locally networked.


Nicholas Farrow
Ken Sugawara
Michael Theodore



  • IGP Seed Grant
  • National Science Foundation

Media Coverage


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