Artists

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!!

LAUREN – Smart (human) intelligence for the home assistant

LAUREN is a project by new media artist Lauren McCarthy. She will impersonate a home automation assistant not unlike Amazon’s Alexia, responding to users’ vocal commands and acting on their connected domestic environment. Project Lauren will last 3 days.

 

 

“Lauren will control your home for you, attempting to get better than an AI, understanding you as a person”.

I reckon it is a no brainer for Lauren the HI (human intelligence) to be better than Alexa or Siri, examples mentioned by the artist on the project’s website.

Volunteers might feel more morally observed than by an artificial assistant, and may have to deal with interruptions of service due to naps or other very human breaks.

You can apply here if you are interested in hosting Lauren in your home.

 

— Why do I blog about that?

 

I have an ongoing interest in the way machines and humans roles overlap or shift, takeover, resistance, harmony, symbiosis. Power, delegation, cyber-isation. Lauren is an interesting gesture that reminds us about the unique -as yet- touch humans can bring to other humans in a way machines cannot. My own Am I Robot installation works on a similar principle of injecting HI in a system normally driven by AI or simpler algorithms.

 

The Wizard of Oz, HI trickster, exposed by Toto's down to earth DI (dog intelligence)

Eppur si Muove exhibition

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.

 

EppurSiMuove_signature_mail

 

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.

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.

 

guidoPortraitWeb

 

RIP Chris Burden

burdenWithCars

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.

Respect.

New Museum_2013_Chris Burden_Benoit Pailley


Burden’s famous performance SHOOT! (1971).

 

After the circuits died

After the circuits died

On Sunday 26th October I was in the Victoria and Albert Museum Art Studio in London with three other artists (Jonathan Kemp, Madaleine Trigg, Dani Ploeger) improvising with a large pile of electronic waste.

The day will concluded with a presentation of the work in progress and discussion with cultural theorists Neil Maycroft and Toby Miller.

Details will be uploaded soon.

ewastePloeger

After the circuits died: exploring electronic waste is a free event where “Visitors are invited to follow a group of artists and cultural theorists in a one-day exploration of electronic waste”, part of an AHRC research project lead by Dani Ploeger

Coucou clock making in Cévennes

I spent a week near Alès in the south of France, sharing tricks with the multi-talented William Brossard, founder of Artimachines. We started building a hybrid cuckoo clock using various techniques ranging from walnut tree sanding to Raspberry pi programming. The coucou bird is working nicely, coming out of a circular door designed by William. The clock runs on a Raspberry Pi fitted with an Adafruit PiTFT monitor. The bird and door are controlled by an Arduino Uno and a L298 motor controller.

I am thinking of changing the display as the PiTFT display is dim in daylight and when seen at an angle.


coucouJune

Owl project studio

Owl Project's Anthony Hall and Simon Whitemore

While in Manchester I took the opportunity to visit my friends from the Owl Project in their studio round the back of Piccadilly Station. Anthony Hall, Simon Whitemore and Steve Symons have scored a large space split in two sections: one dedicated to (mostly) wood fabrication, with a CNC router and some more traditional cutting tools, the other for brain work, electronics and small scale projects.

The space contains several of Owl Project’s FLOW installation instruments. FLOW was commissioned by Cultural Olympiads fund in 2012, and installed on the Tyne River in Newcastle UK for several months. Mounted on a specially designed floating platform, a water wheel activated several beautifully crafted wood and electronics instruments that analysed water samples and generated sound accordingly.

I also saw a few solar-powered iLogs (if you want to make one, there is an iLog workshop coming soon) and current work on various synths, sequencers and light spectrometers. The Owl project are currently developing new work during a residency in Manchester Museum.