Travels

Deershed Festival Wrekshop 2019

The good people of the Deershed have invited me again for supervising the execution of several hundred kilos of obsolete consumer electronics by several hundred children (12 at a time maximum). The operation is called a Wrekshop and takes place in the Science Tent of the family friendly Deershed Festival 10 in Topcliffe North Yorkshire UK from 26th to 28th July.

 

 

In the Science Tent this year for the first time: Sam Battle, of youtube fame as Look Mum No Computer, is the inventor of the Furby Organ, the Flamethrowing Henry Hoover and he plays a giant analog synth in his lab. I am looking forward to meet this interesting man and his creations!

 

RIXC Art Science Festival 2019

RIXC is a Media Art centre based in Riga Latvia. They have been running an ambitious and experimental media art programme since 2000. This year the RIXC Festival features the UN/GREEN exhibition and the conference Open Fields 2019: UN/GREEN: NATURALLY ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCES

I will present on 6th July a talk at the conference with the catchy title: What to make [techno-] art about in the age of ecological collapse?…

 

Video above: Pond Battery by Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits, 2015

Smit and Smits, curators of the UN/GREEN exhibition, have been making several installations using microbial fuel cells. I am interested in hearing more about the work, as I experimented with similarly sticky technology in collaboration with Michka Melo in the Power of the Mud and Mudbots projects.

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

dsWrekshop2017Table dsWrekshop2017ManWoman dsWrekshop2017BoytreeDay3

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.”

cJoAndGirlHullWeb

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.

 

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