Insta.ants

Insta.ants consists in artsy artificial ants that paint unique antworks from input images. A computer bot systematically collects images from Instagram tagged with #instaants, supplies them to the painting ants, and exhibits the resulting antworks on their Instagram profile as well as on the repository at goo.gl/HTU0xZ, where you can also find videos of their painting processes.

 

Most recent antwork
Figure 1

Most recent antwork uploaded by the bot to Instagram. Click on the image to see all antworks on Instagram.

 
 

How to use

 

The following flowchart explains how to use insta.ants.

 

How to use
Figure 2

How to use insta.ants.

 

In short, to have the insta.ants painting for you, post an image on Instagram using the hashtag #instaants in the caption. Our bot will discover this post, paint an antwork, and post it back to Instagram with a tag to you. Instagramers with private profiles, before using our tag, must follow the insta.ants so they can follow you back and see your #instaants posts.

 
 

How it works

 

The bot consists of three cores that work together: finder, render, and uploader. First, the finder periodically visits Instagram and collects the most recent images tagged with #instaants. Second, the render paints each collected image with an ant species selected at random. Finally, the uploader periodically uploads the resulting antworks to Instagram.

 

The render core is based on our previous work Photogrowth. Inspired on ant colony approaches, the render produces emerging paintings by simulating the behaviour of artificial ants while they travel on a canvas. The trails of the ants are represented by continuous lines, working like paintbrushes. The intertwinement of all trails, together with their variation in width, direction, and colour, produce expressive renderings from input images that would be hard to execute or even imagine.

 

Same image painted by different ant species
Figure 3

Same image painted by different ant species. Source image: Just Be Yourself, by Kirsten Sims, 2016.

 

We have defined a set of different ant species. Each has its own behaviour, sensory capabilities, life span, reproduction rate, free will, etc. This way, different ant species produce different types of imagery. To test and select a set of ant species, we use an evolutionary algorithm to evolve their characteristics. The figure above shows the same input image painted by different ant species. In the future, we will allow users to choose the ant species that will paint their images, possibly by using an hashtag to identify the desired ant species.

 

Scaling of a vector antwork
Figure 4

Scaling of a vector antwork. Source image: Just Be Yourself, by Kirsten Sims, 2016.

 

The rendering algorithm is able to output vector images, allowing the production of large-format artworks. You can find high resolution versions of all antworks as well as a video of each painting process at goo.gl/HTU0xZ. To find a specific antwork, use its ID, e.g. antwork_abc, or the name of the author of the original image. Both the ID and the author of an antwork are presented in its caption on Instagram. In addition, we can provide higher resolution and vector versions of any antwork upon request.

 
 

Related projects

 

Photogrowth: Ant Painting