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Borderland Sensorium

Learning Resilience from Bees and Flowers

AR & Multimedia Interactive Installations


"Borderland Sensorium: Learning Resilience from Bees and Flowers" is a dynamic and evolving collaboration between Lauren McCall and Sara Milkes Espinosa. Rooted in the intersection of art, technology, and ecology, this project offers participants a multisensory exploration into the world of bees and flowers. Through innovative mediums like Augmented Reality and interactive soundscapes, participants are immersed in the delicate dance of co-evolution, electromagnetic interactions, and the profound challenges these organisms face in the wake of human actions and climate change. While the project shines a spotlight on the well-known honeybees, it also champions the unsung heroes of pollination: the native bees. Each iteration of the project not only educates but also invites reflection, fostering a deeper appreciation for the intricate web of life and our role within it.



June 2022 - Present


Lauren McCall: Composer, Music Educator, Music Technology 
Sara Milkes Espinosa: Digital Media Researcher, Interaction Design


  • Craft Interaction Design

  • Co-create participant experience integrating scientific sources 

  • Evaluate prototypes at different stages


This project delves into the intricate relationships between bees and flowers. It aims to educate and immerse users in the world of not just the well-known honeybees but also native bees, many of which play crucial roles in pollination yet remain uncharismatic or indirectly beneficial to human crops. Through multiple iterations, the project has evolved in form and medium, always emphasizing the importance of co-evolved organisms, the impacts of human actions, and the role of technology in conveying these messages.

Project Iterations

Symbiotic Sensoria: Electromagnetic Language of Bees and Flowers

  • Medium: Augmented Reality (AR)

  • Description: This AR experience immerses users in the world of bees, allowing them to perceive the electromagnetic signals emitted by flowers, much like bees do.

  • Interaction Design:

    • Bee Vision: Users experience a color-shifted view, simulating how bees perceive the world. This includes ultraviolet patterns on flowers, which are invisible to the human eye but guide bees to nectar.

    • Electromagnetic Interaction: Users can approach digital flowers and receive feedback based on the flower's electromagnetic profile. This simulates how bees are guided by the electromagnetic signals of flowers.

    • Learning from Flowers: As users interact with different flowers, they receive cues that help them understand which flowers are beneficial, mimicking the learning behavior of bees.

    • Human Impact Scenarios: Users encounter scenarios where the electromagnetic signals are distorted due to human actions, such as pesticide use, showcasing the challenges bees face.

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Project Iterations (ctnd.)

Borderland Sensorium

  • Medium: Sound and Touch

  • Description: This iteration delves deeper into the co-evolution of bee and flower electric signals, using sound as a medium to convey these intricate interactions.

  • Interaction Design:

    • Interactive Flower Mat: Users can touch different parts of a flower-shaped sensory mat. Each touchpoint corresponds to different electric signals, and the resulting sounds provide insights into the co-evolution of these signals.

    • Soundscapes: The sounds include a blend of natural bee sounds, sonification of bee data, and musical compositions. These soundscapes evolve based on user interaction, reflecting the dynamic nature of bee-flower relationships.

    • Electromagnetic Feedback: As users explore the mat, they receive auditory feedback that mirrors the electromagnetic profiles of real flowers, teaching them about the co-evolution of bee and flower electric signals.


Exploring the sensorial metaphors of bee sensorium through different arrangements of multimedia. Our goal was to strike a balance between grokable interactivity and reflection around the scientific complexities. 

Experiential & Learning Outcomes

  • Electromagnetism in Nature: Flowers emit weak electromagnetic signals, and bees, being positively charged, can sense these signals. This electromagnetic attraction guides bees to flowers, aiding in the pollination process.

  • Learning Behaviors: Bees, including native species, have the incredible ability to learn from the electromagnetic profiles of flowers. Over time, they can discern which flowers are more likely to offer nectar, optimizing their foraging patterns.

  • Co-evolution of Electric Signals: Over millions of years, bees and flowers have co-evolved, refining their electric signals for mutual benefit.

  • Focus on Native Bees: While honeybees often steal the limelight due to their direct benefits to human agriculture, native bees play a crucial role in maintaining biodiversity and ensuring the health of various ecosystems. This project aims to shed light on these often-overlooked heroes of pollination.

Reflections & Future Direction

Challenges & Learnings: The project has grappled with challenges such as balancing scientific accuracy with artistic expression and ensuring that technology serves the narrative. Through collaboration and feedback, our team has navigated these challenges, refining the project with each iteration.

Future Iterations: As an ongoing collaboration, the project will continue to evolve, with future iterations potentially exploring new mediums, technologies, and scientific insights.

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