BELUGA DISTANCING
2020 / MEDIA ART

Neural technologies make it possible to transfer the audial characteristics of a biological agent to a non-biological one. The patterns of movement of belugas in captivity are amenable to analysis and subsequent reproduction using machine learning technologies, predicting the further behavior of species and their interaction (movement, behavior in groups, auditory communication).

The project was displayed at the international exhibition project 
«Brave New World» (Curator: Julia Klimko, 2020).

The audio documentation of the project was included in the CD sound-art collection «The Aesthetics of Biodiversity», which brings together the works
of digital artists exploring environmental issues (Global Youth Academy, 2020).

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The logic of the installation

Hundreds of belugas are captured annually, removed from nature and sold for shows in aquariums or for research. Replacing their natural environment with an artificial one is directly reflected in the patterns of their behavior and interaction with each other.

By training algorithms on the audial and kinematic behavior of belugas, we have created a system that allows us to study their interaction and behavior with no harm to animals.


The conditions of the 2020 pandemic placed humanity in the same conditions as belugas in captivity, physically isolating individuals from the rest of the world, which also naturally changed the patterns of human behavior.

This makes it possible to transfer the characteristics of biological agents that have fallen into changed conditions to non-biological agents, building a closed system for their interaction and further research. In the process of transmission, part of the data or internal principles is interpreted incorrectly or recreated with interference, and certain features of behavior may be only a presumption of algorithms. However, the kinematic and audial features of biological and nonbiological agents become similar, posing us with a question about the features of interspecific communication of biological and nonbiological agents.

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Screenshots from video of beluga whales behavior

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Renders of behavior of the algorithmic objects