The Nights of Uncertainty (#18)
NIGHT OF HONEY
Monday March 23, 2015 at 8 pm
An evening hosted by Cédric Villani (mathematician)
With Jean-Claude Ameisen (doctor, biologist, author of the radio program Sur les épaules de Darwin), Olivier Darné (artist, urban beekeeper), Elisabeth de Fontenay (philosopher), James Nieh (biologist) and Franck Ruffier (biorobotics researcher).
After the Bat Night in 2014, the Night of Honey sets out to discover the world of bees, from ancestral practices of beekeeping to the anthropological representations associated with them. For over 100 million years, bees have been gathering nectar and pollinating flowering plants; they thus play an essential role in the growth of fruit, vegetables and other plants, all the while producing honey. Domestic beekeeping has been practiced since at least the fifth millennium BC, as evidenced by a bas-relief at the sun temple of Abu Ghorab in Egypt. Today, a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder is affecting bees worldwide, thereby radically threatening ecological (and economic) stability on an international scale.
© François Vrignaud
The diversity of guests over the course of the evening will offer the public a fascinating insight into the world of bees, enabling a better understanding of this winged insect that is inextricably connected to our own lives. Through their presentations, film screenings and the tasting of rare honeys, guests will evoke the deep relationship that has united men and bees throughout history, recent developments in research on their social behavior and the unique phenomenon of swarm intelligence, and the development in recent years of rather striking biorobotics models inspired by their physiological capabilities. The discussion will also address the pressing issue of the environmental threats faced by bees and their disastrous consequences in terms of biodiversity.
And to transport audiences even further into the world of beekeeping, the Night of Honey will be an opportunity to taste rare honeys, steeped in history: honey collected by the Ayoreo Indians in the Chaco region of Paraguay, honey from Benin and Cameroon brought back by Cédric Villani on his recent trip to Africa, the miel Béton (concrete honey) produced by Olivier Darné in Seine-Saint Denis, honey from local producers in New Mexico where the artist Bruce Nauman lives, as well as the honey produced by the Visitandines Sisters at the Convent of the Visitation, a stone’s throw from the Fondation Cartier, and many other honeys: milky, runny, brown, bitter or granular… If circumstances allow, we also hope to taste the renowned honey produced by the honeypot ants of the Australian and North-American semi-deserts!
Jean-Claude Ameisen is a doctor, biologist, and professor of immunology at the Université Paris Diderot. He is currently the president of the Comité consultatif national d’éthique [National Advisory Ethics Committee]. Since 2010, he has been the writer and presenter of the weekly program, Sur les épaules de Darwin, broadcast on France Inter, which explores the living world from the perspectives of science, philosophy and poetry. Three books have been published based on these programs: Sur les épaules de Darwin, vol. 1 (Les Battements du temps, éd. LLL, 2012), vol. 2 (Je t’offrirai des spectacles admirables, éd. LLL, 2013) and vol. 3 (Retrouver l’aube, éd. LLL, 2014).
Olivier Darné is a visual artist and urban beekeeper. A beekeeper for almost twenty years in Saint-Denis (93), he produces the miel Béton (concrete honey). With the Parti poétique, a collective of artists, thinkers and practitioners, and through the notion of “pollination of the city,” he questions our relationship to the urban environment, its flows, tensions and biodiversity. He is currently leading an artistic project entitled La Banque du miel (Honey Bank), now spread over France and Europe, in which the bee is used as a new indicator of territorial wealth.
Elisabeth de Fontenay is a philosopher. She has lectured in philosophy at the Université Paris 1. Her work questions the relationship between men and animals down through the ages. She is the author of numerous publications including Le Silence des bêtes (Fayard, Paris, 1998), Sans offenser le genre humain. Réflexions sur la cause animale (Albin Michel, Paris, 2008) and co-authored with Boris Cyrulnik and Peter Singer, Les Animaux aussi ont des droits (Seuil, Paris, 2013). From 2010 to 2014, Elisabeth de Fontenay presented the weekly program, Vivre avec les bêtes on France Inter.
James Nieh is a biologist. He graduated Harvard and Cornell Universities in the US, and is the director of a laboratory at the University of California San Diego, where is also a professor. His research focuses on the evolution of bee language and behavior, as well as the effects of pesticides and pathogens on their health. He is also the founder of The Teaching Bee, an educational project for young people, raising awareness around the important role played by bees in local ecosystems.
Franck Ruffier is a biorobotics researcher. He is the codirector of the biorobotics department at the Institut des Sciences du Mouvement Etienne-Jules Marey (AixMarseille Université / CNRS). His work revolves around the visuomotor control of winged insects such as bees, and using a bio-inspired approach, he is currently developing a system of visual guidance (take-off, speed, obstacles, and landing) in aerial micro-robots, based around a study of optical flow used by these insects.
Cédric Villani is a mathematician and director of the Institut Henri Poincaré in Paris. He was the recipient of the Fields Medal in 2010. With American artist, Patti Smith, Cédric Villani hosted the Bat Night at the Fondation Cartier in July 2014 as part of the Nights of Uncertainty series. In 2011, he also participated in the conception of the exhibition Mathematics, A Beautiful Elsewhere, organized by the Fondation Cartier and the IHÉS. He is the author of Théorème vivant (Grasset, Paris, 2012), published in English as Birth of a Theorem (The Bodley Head, London) in 2015.
Upcoming Nights : Night of the Monkey, Night of the Wind