The collective of socially engaged architects Assemble won the Turner Prize last night. I am a big fan of their very inclusive “useful art”. They were shortlisted for the Turner Prize for their gentle yet ground-breaking regeneration work in the Granby area of Liverpool.
Check the video about the Granby Workshop, a new social enterprise making handmade products for homes. The workshop is run by local residents. The products are created with hand-made techniques, using some disused building materials and other locally sourced recyclables. Shop online or in their shop in Granby, then sold online or in their local showroom.
Last week the exhibition Eppur Si Muove opened in MUDAM museum, Luxemburg. Lots of good stuff in there. The exhibition is a combination of historical scientific and technical artefacts from Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris and contemporary artworks related to similar techniques and science. Until February 2016.
The exhibition features many excellent works, including Tinguely’s Fata Morgana, Eliasson’s Trust Compass, Kowalski’s Arc en Ciel, Stelarc’s Third Hand and many more. My own Smartbot has been uncrated for living another segment of its limited existence on one square metre.
True Compass, Olafur Eliasson 2013
Arc en Ciel, Piotr Kowalski, 1992
Job le Renard Electronique, Albert Ducrocq 1950
Third Hand, Stelarc, 1980
Fata Morgana, Jean Tinguely, 1985
Smartbot in Eppur Si Muove
The MUDAM commissioned me and a team of artists, engineers and business students from Université de Lorraine, Nancy, France, to develop a robot guide for Eppur Si Muove. Guido the Robot Guide started its visits the day after the opening. There is a fair bit of work to be done before it can take over the human guides (phew) but Guido is popular with visitors, especially young ones. It talks about a selection of artworks and inventions from a robotic perspective, only in French for the moment. Two engineering students are working on Guido’s navigation and telepresence until end August.
Field HQ in MUDAM, July 2015
Engineering students Mehdi Romain and 2 Guidos
How many laptops does it take to program a Guido?
Fine-Art student Alix, Nao motions expert
Guido’s first visit
Patrick Hénaff, main collaborator on project Guido
I just found out today that Chris Burden died on 10th May, aged 69.
Infamous for deliberately shocking masochistic performances in the 1970s, he went on to make great sculptures and installations. Among my favourites is Big Wheel (1979). Combining a 1.7 tons steel flywheel and a small italian motorcyle, it evokes weight, energy, transport, risk in a spectacular kinetic-static performance sculpture. The simplicity of means, the scale, the engineering and the danger are typical of Burden’s best work unique impact.
IEEE posted this video shot today on the obstacle course, many robots bit the dust. Most of them got back on track despite the nasty-looking falls.
Humanoid robots sure have a long way to go. Yet, I just spent a while watching the live feed and it is impressive what these things can do. Even if it the actions feel excruciatingly slow at times, the task gets completed most times.
I mentioned last week some original lab testing devices for some robots that will compete in Darpa’s Robotics Challenge tomorrow and Saturday. Well, here they are (most them anyway) in this pure robot geek poster published by the robotics branch of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).
An interesting selection of cutting edge humanoid and semi-humanoid designs, ready to bite the dust of Fairplex, California. There even is a Chappie lookalike!
Well known for funding all sorts of military-oriented sci-tech projects in the USA, Darpa (Defense advanced projects research agency) is just about to launch the grand final of their robotics challenge. Twenty-five of the top robotics organizations in the world will gather to compete for $3.5 million in prizes as they attempt a simulated disaster-response course.
I was not too impressed by the semi-finals in December 2013. I actually use a video of the Schaft S-One robot climbing a ladder to illustrate how far humanoid robots are from anything vaguely similar to old school Terminator or Ava from the recent Ex-Machina movie.
Anyways, this post is a total side line: I had a look at videos of teams getting ready, working on balancing their robot (they are not allowed to assist the robot if it falls during the contest). I love the lo-tech tools built by the teams to push and prod the robots (a tradition started with the infamous video of Boston Dynamics Big Dog being kicked in 2008).
DRC teams develop a somehow re-assuring ad-hocist approach that strongly contrasts with the titanium and silicon aesthetics of the machines.
Case A: MIT, pushing Atlas robot in the groin with an ominous looking cardboard tube
Case B: much more creative, research dudes in Virginia Tech have built a contraption that combines a broom handle and a child’s shoe. A clever design that allows pushing AND pulling!
If you liked the videos and you happen to be in Pomona, California on June 5th and 6th, check it out, entry is free! A unique opportunity to spot the next step in evolution (but you might not get to see the pushing tools).
After several Wrekshops where we spent too much time building the interface for the creative down-cycling of e-waste items, I have finally found the time to build a general purpose Wrekshop controller. It features an Arduino Mega microcontroller, a recycled 400W PC power supply, three L298 dual channel motor controllers, an 8-digital outputs L2803 darlington array and a fast connecting system giving access to additional digital I/O, analog inputs, I2C and serial ports.
The Wrekshop controller was debugged and tested during the Blast Wrekshop in April 2015.
I was invited by Blast (Bournemouth laboratory for arts science and technology) to run a Wrekshop as part of their guest artists workshops seasons. In good company there, after Anna Dumitriu and Brandon Ballangée. I had been thinking for a while about how to boost the Wrekshop format (informed deconstruction and creative reconstruction of e-waste). I finally found the time to build a Wrekshop controller box, a sort of general purpose programmable device with easy connection and built-in functionalities. More details here.
The Wrekshop was attended by a gender-balanced group of mostly artists. They all-but-one built functional (if not useful) items to be connected to the controller. The results will be included in the final exhibition of the Blast projects alongside all the other things that were built. This should be an interesting show, planned for June.
“The Man|Machine workshops will concentrate on the creation of robots as works of art. The workshops are meant to enhance interdisciplinary attitudes among young artists, engineers and designers. They open to all audiences, with a special focus on students of art academies and technical universities from Poland and Norway. They will be lead by three robotic artists. The participants will form interdisciplinary teams, each of which shall create at least one robot under the supervision of a chosen artist.”
We worked for 6 days in a technopark in Gdynia and created a thing out of arduinos and Polish electronic waste. The students called it “Sasza – the love machine’. It has heart that moves and beats, a mouth made of felt that comes to kiss people who touch Sasza’a hands, and two excitable vibrating pets. Sasza will be exhibited in May in Laznia Centre for Contemporary Arts, Gdansk, then in Oslo in September.