Rivera and Hsu’s Bi0film.net reshapes digital landscapes by embracing bacterial wisdom for alternative networks, sustainability, and autonomy. Amid antimicrobial resistance, the project mirrors bacteria’s collaboration and self-organization. Through co-creation workshops, communities prototype novel forms while advocating distributed, encrypted, and autonomous networks. In an age of internet censorship, Bi0film.net’s living digital media amplifies connections, providing secure and resilient pathways beyond corporative internet spaces. A biofilm of diverse communities converges, redefining communication paradigms inspired by nature’s collaborative prowess.

Which wall does your research break?

Bi0film.net is an exploration of other comprehensions of bacteria and other living organisms’ behaviors. It breaks the wall of anthropocentrism and the permanent ideas of categorizing nature and other life forms based on their usability for or harmfulness to humans. It is well known that today antimicrobial resistance is acknowledged as one of the biggest challenges for human health, however, it might as well be the common war metaphor to refer to them and the control-based relations that we pretend to have with these microorganisms that brought us to that point. Restoring our relations to nature, of which we are part of, includes creating other fabulations, other politics of the living. Breaking the wall to Resist like Bacteria is to deepen into bacteria amazing technologies of collaboration, to self-organize, collectively act, and break through as they do. It means also to re-think/re-create our digital technologies to be more life-like, to allow distributed processes and to enable life itself. Bi0film.net aims at facilitating the connection to alternative networks, and at the same time acknowledges the importance of seeking autonomy in our communication technologies, now when internet censorship is used as a tool of repression on the part of authoritarian regimes. In the context of the biocentric turn and the ongoing hyper-digitalization, taking the chance to re-think our digital media to be closer to life’s processes and ecology is of great relevance. From bio-inspired, through life-like, and up to living digital media there is a biology and digital technologies relation to be created from different perspectives, practices and cultures, that brings of course big transformations to societies and nature itself. Those transformations are to be created collectively, with self-organized communities and in distributed ways, as we proposed with our co-creation workshops.

What inspired or motivated you to work on your current research or project?

We were both part of the New Media Class of the Berlin University of Arts, during the lockdown. Each of us in our hometown, digitally exchanging our experiences and research on microorganisms’ politics, in a context where the pandemic-related restrictions abruptly interrupted big social movements, in Colombia and in Hong Kong. That immense amount of energy was still finding some other routes to be expressed and social inequality, in Latin America for instance, was getting even worse. For us both and the communities we worked with, to think about and prototype an autonomous communication network that could allow demonstrators to communicate during the protests was a way to get together and participate from our fields of interest in a social outbreak where arts had a fundamental role, particularly in Colombia. On the other hand, it was also a space to re-think our understandings and narratives around microorganisms, which humanity has considered less important until recognized as useful or harmful. Bacteria, which have been here long before us, have developed amazing technologies of distributed communication and self-organized collaboration that have allowed them to become this biosphere with its amazing biological diversity. To get to know and create other fabulations to understand other living organisms’ behaviors, experiences, and existences is a way to restore our relations to the nature of which we are part of. That is what brought us to deepen into bacteria resistance as one example of how not only humans resist human control, but all other living organisms do, in the context of Climate Crisis for instance. While creating our project, it brought us as well to consider how our digital technologies could also be more life-like developed, including distributed and collaborative processes of co-creation.

In what ways does society benefit from your research?

Our project is based on co-creation workshops with the communities interested in exploring, prototyping and adapting this kind of communication media while sharing ideas on the importance of creating other ways of organization that could be, as our project proposes, inspired by other living organisms. In that sense, the project is open because every resource we and the communities use is open and will continue to be, but also because the project does not intend to offer a final product service. It is open because we are aware that the process of re-inventing our organization and communication media is of course mutant and evolutive, plus situated. It is important to acknowledge that it promotes and prototypes the creation of autonomous networks, but is not a product meant to be directly implemented, especially where high-security risks exist. Because besides the umbrella-antenna as a tool, the question and the processes around autonomous communication networks are still open for us. Together with those joining the conversation, the Bi0film.net community continues developing the possibilities for p2p, encrypted, decentralized, and federated communication technologies, creating a biofilm itself that amplifies and enhances the connection of diverse communities worldwide. Distributed, autonomous, and nomadic networks could allow communities to communicate outside the corporative internet that is increasingly growing and taking all our life’s spaces. It would as well allow them to have more secure, private, and trustful processes, especially when unwanted by the institutions and other States or Governments’ powers.

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