Travels

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

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…

 

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

 

Power of the Mud prototypes

work in progress

 

 

See our mini machines moved by bacterial mud power, among a great selection of cutting edge projects by international artists and designers, during the Digital Design Weekend in Victoria and Albert Museum London, 23rd and 24th September 2017.

Detailed info on our work with microbial fuel cells here.

 

Electric Wildertree Wrekshop

Just back from the Deershed Festival in Topcliffe UK where I ran a 3 days Wrekshop for kids. The festival’s theme was Wilderwild [not sure where they got that from. I understood it as something to do with woods and some spooky friendly vibe you can get in nature]. I thought it would be a good opportunity to make an ELECTRIC WILDERTREE combining e-waste, the relentless energy of children with screwdrivers and a bit of expert technological creativity.

One hour before the attack

One hour before the attack

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Wrekshop leftovers ready to go back to recycling facilities

Wrekshop leftovers ready to go back to recycling facilities

Combover Jo in Hull, UK

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

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.”

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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.

 

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.

 

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Blast Wrekshop

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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.

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I also presented a lecture on the latest of my practice and thinking on the Co-evolution of humans and machines. The not fully uplifting aspects such as superintelligence and Algorithmic regulation were compensated by funny old classics such as the Cybernetic Parrot Sausage video.

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