Kikk Festival 2018

 

I presented on 1st November a lecture for the forthcoming Kikk Festival in Namur, Belgium. I talked about machinic life and mudpies (en Français).

Kikk, of which this was the 8th edition, is an excellent festival of “Digital and creative cultures” mixing designers, artists start-ups, thinkers, talks, exhibitions, workshop, market in a very dense weekend programme.

 

Highlights – from left to right:

 

 

Superbe, an interactive installation by Belgian collective SMing, really playable musical vocal artwork where you conduct a choir made of your voice and face, in a full size church.

 

Talk by Nelly Ben Hayoun, self-described as a Bombardment, it was indeed one of sorts. Ben Hayoun is a highly energetic experience designer / activist determined to change the world, and having a good go at it working with NASA, Seti, Noam Chomsky, WeTransfer… She is releasing soon I am (not) a monster, a documentary film about her quest for the origin of knowledge. She also runs the ambitious and alternative University of the Underground.

 

Amulet Incubator by Matthieu Zurstrassen: a machine exposes fortune cookies for 48 hours to the healing frequency of 528Hz. The cookies are then beautifully packaged and offered for sale or sent out as corporate gifts. Zurstrassen presented a talk titled “I used to be an architect, now I am feeling much better”. Apart from his magic cookies he also mentioned a self lobotomising kit aiming at defeating the predictive algorithms that increasingly spy on us by making the users unpredictable even to themselves.

 

And I must mention the final party with its totally Belgian theme Boudin Room, like a boiler room but with a butcher sharing the stage with the DJ, making and cooking sausages for the audience during the set.

 

“KIKK is an international festival of digital and creative cultures. Its interest lies in the artistic and economic implications of new technologies.” It has been running since 2011, presenting a mix of lectures, live events and installations. This year the theme was Species and Beyond.

 

Dessus de porte floral by Jean-Baptiste Robie, Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Namur

We are the robots 1978

This is the original in German, “Wir sind die roboter”. A nice bit of vintage pop video by Kraftwerk. Love the LED ties, still geeky cool 40 years on!!

Spot Mini robot dance

Boston Dynamics gets into the groove with this video of their Spot Mini quadruped, including some anthropomorphic robosexy moves that might tickle some public.

 

Another Spot Mini video, this one got more than 5 million hits since February. It is more in the Boston Dynamics tradition with a Skynet-like machine behaviour and robot abuse moments. 16000+ comments, largely about the themes mentioned above.

And The Things We Do… exhibition

After a frantic lead-up to the opening of the exhibition And The Things We Do in Azkuna Zentroa, Bilbao Spain, 11 Mudbots are pushing clay balls, largely helped by humans cranking them up.

 

 

The exhibition comprises a nice selection of robotic artworks by Carolin Liebl and Nicolas Schmid-Pfähler, Mari Velonaki, Petra Gemeinboeck and Rob Saunders, Robotlab, David Bowen as well as my good old friend Combover Jo, speaking Spanish for the occasion. The exhibition runs until 16 September 2018.

 

Introduction by the curators Rosa Casado and Mike Brooks: “The exhibition brings together a selection of major and influential contemporary artworks from within the fields of social robotics, bio electronics and artificial intelligence, that will together inhabit Azkuna Zentroa’s gallery, to create an evolving ecology of interactive and adaptably performative machines. With the artists who have worked with us over the past year to realise this collective of works, we have focused on how these strangely familiar yet extraordinary robots – through their behaviours, and their endeavours to adapt and function within their environment – might both reflect and respond to our own choices and experiences. Perhaps our meetings with them might open new perspectives onto the things we ourselves choose to do and not do, to make and not make happen, as together we navigate and shape the shared spaces we live in.”

 

Robots de barro coming soon in Bilbao

Nice day in Bilbao, Spain, a preparation trip for the Prototipoak exhibition who commissioned a new robotic installation featuring Mudbots – robots de barro.

Collected mud today in the Zorrozaure island, that used to be a very active industrial hub. Heavy metal doped bacteria…

 

Mud and kids and Microbits

I am in the middle of a new Lead Creative Schools project (I ran another one last year). Aimed at promoting a creative approach to teaching and life, the scheme allows a class in a primary school to work with a creative practitioner for approximately 10 teaching days on a made-to-measure project. This time I work with a year 6 class (10-11 year olds), combining creative technology and outdoors activities. We code Microbits and upcycle e-waste in the morning and build dens and mud batteries in the afternoon, a fine balance!

Electronic Wildertrees in Moscow

December 2017. The Garage contemporary arts centre invited me to wrek Russian e-waste with local participants and build some post-apocalypse trees as part of their 8th Art Experiment season. This year the theme was Laboratories of Earthly Survival. Curator Snejana Kratseva says:

 

“Each winter, Garage transforms its galleries into an experimental laboratory for art. Visitors of all ages are invited to participate in hands-on experiences with artists, as well as innovative creative collaborations between peers. Art Experiment is the flagship initiative of Garage Education and Public Programs and attracts students, parents, local residents, and Moscow visitors.

This year will be the eighth annual interactive initiative, focusing on science art and survival ethics. It will consist of hands-on experiments in “hacking” life sciences and equipping participants with skills in agricultural, biological, genetic as well as robo engineering, preparing kids and adults for an imaginary future after the world ended, cultivating a future generation of home-grown brand of “garage scientists” who will be able to not only to generate new inventions with low-fi materials but do so evaluating one’s ethical values with every new discovery.”

 

I knew there was little hope to get some exotic soviet era e-waste, and I was right. We got lots of Hewlett-Packard PCs, a crate of early 2000s Panasonic cameras and various other familiar consumer electronics items.

 

 

 

Other artists in the show were Anastasia Potemkina with an hydroponics installation for growing resilient, apocalypse resistant plants such as nettles, and the collective Where Dogs Run who had 20 odd live chicks providing the data for a vintage slide show and a great-looking electronic sculpture based on Dante’s inferno.

Art Experiment, Laboratories of Earthly Survival ran from December 19th 2017 to January 8th 2018.

Moscow

Moscow Sheremetyevo airport terminal last night. Temperature: 2°. Traffic into town: terrible (the sound of studded tyres on tarmac made the journey -somehow- more interesting).

 

I am setting up for a post apocalypse-themed wrekshop for the Art Experiment:Laboratories of Earthly Survival exhibition in the Garage contemporary art museum. My survival odds are very good if I trust the perfectly seared tuna I just ate in the museum restaurant…

 

Studded tyre sign, the letter sha

 

Vintage evil slave robots

I found this photo while tidying some drawers. These are two friends in robot costumes for a no-budget sci-fi pilot I shot in 1993 called Euronutrifood. They are supposed to be evil slave robots. Thanks again and respect to the ghosts in the machine: Raphaëlle Paupert-Borne and Matthieu Demouzon.

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