••• Current and coming soon…

•– Citizen Science #4 ———————



Session 4 of our Citizen Science experiments with creative bio-engineer Michka Melo is planned for September 2017. It will culminate with a presentation of Power of the Mud, our work in progress with mud-powered microbial fuel cells at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Digital Design Weekend London UK on September 23rd and 24th.



•– Am I Robot in Hull, UK ———————

Since July 6th and until September 24th, good old Combover Jo the purple hairy robot with an unfortunate hairstyle is roaming in Humber Street Gallery Hull as part of States of Play, an exhibition organised by the Craft Council of England.



What they say: “States of Play is a new Crafts Council exhibition for Hull City of Culture 2017 which shows how play shapes our lives and the world around us. Work by sixteen UK and international makers and designers turn upside down the idea that play is the preserve of children. Instead it is revealed as a creative, social and political force that infuses all areas of life.



For the occasion Combover Jo has been updated to version 2.0, losing its hands but gaining an eye, and a much improved dream state. Confirming its crowd-pleaser status, the trickster robot moved among and played with a busy crowd on the opening night amongst incredulous gasps and loud laughs. The show runs until September 24th.


cJo opening Tom Arran 5Photo by Tom Arran

Things I liked in States of Play include twisted 3D printer works Thingiverse gone GMO nightmare by Matthew Plummer Hernandez, rejection letter automated crows by Ting Tong Chang, blow-activated wind device by MischerTraxler Studio, the optical non-things by Glithero and the silver pineapples on the gallery’s front by Silo Studio. Check it out, Hull as City of Culture 2017 has lots going on!

Combover Jo is the moving part of the installation Am I Robot, originally commissioned for The Imitation Game exhibition in Manchester Art Gallery. The exhibition was inspired by Alan Turing’s seminal paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence.


•– Electric Wildertree Wrekshop ———————


I ran a Wrekshop for kids during the Deershed Festival for families for 3 days at the end of July in Topcliffe North Yorkshire, UK. Approximately 243 participants contributed to grow an ELECTRIC WILDERTREE.


•– This Machine Could Bite —————————-

The Australian online journal Fibreculture published a special issue on Creative Robotics. The issue features 8 articles by academics and artists on themes such as creative robots on Mars, non-organic intelligence, working with the most famous humanoid robots, failing robots and more… My contribution to the journal is an article titled This Machine Could Bite, On the Role of Non-Benigh Art Robots. I make a case for experimentation in human-robot interaction with machines not designed for being useful or friendly.




Article abstract:

“The social robot’s current and anticipated roles as butler, teacher, receptionist or carer for the elderly share a fundamental anthropocentric bias: they are designed to be benign, to facilitate a transaction that aims to be both useful to and simple for the human. At a time when intelligent machines are becoming a tangible prospect, such a bias does not leave much room for exploring and understanding the ongoing changes affecting the relation between humans and our technological environment. Can art robots – robots invented by artists – offer a non-benign-by-default perspective that opens the field for a machine to express its machinic potential beyond the limits imposed by an anthropocentric and market-driven approach? The paper addresses these questions by considering and contextualising early cybernetic machines, current developments in social robotics, and art robots by the author and other artists.”