Carolin Liebl and Nikolas Schmid-Pfähler residency

 

I have had the pleasure of inviting artists duo Carolin Liebl and Nikolas Schmid-Pfähler for a 3 weeks residency in the FabLab at Cardiff School of Art and Design, as part of the EASTN-DC European research project in digital creativity. Carolin and Nikolas have now returned to their hometown Offenbach, Germany, after 3 weeks  in the FabLab and my studio. They have been busy, started experimenting with the Formlabs 3D printers and 3D scanners. They started by making charging pods for their Sibling robots and printed nature-inspired shapes.

 

They gradually realised that they were not interested so much in printing 3D sculptural forms as they were in inventing their own way of printing objects with plastic, preferably recycled from faulty prints or plastic bottles. They came up with the idea of making a mobile robot that would at times extrude rough plastic shapes in its environment. They started by removing the printhead from a discarded Makerbot Replicator, drilled new holes in the extrusion nozzle and designed a control circuit. After successful testing they put the assembly on a custom mobile chassis with vibrating legs.

 

In parallel they also made from scratch a prototype extruder, a precursor for the printing engine of their larger robot. They got inspiration from the great plastic recycling instructions provided by Precious Plastics. After a couple of days working in the metal shop at CSAD the extruder was ready to go. It is a heated tube inside which an endless screw rotates slowly, pushing melting plastic towards the extruding end. Early tests took place on the last evening of their residency, where the screw spun, the heaters heated and pieces of plastic bottles melted, a promising start!!

 

 

Image above: the first “print” from the extruder, made of recycled PET bottles.

Carolin and Nikolas will continue working on the plastic sculptor robot in their studio, ready for exhibition for the Cardiff EASTN-DC Festival in March 2021. We are really looking forward to see them back with their robot!

FabCre8 Micro Grant exhibition

FabCre8 is a research group of Cardiff School of Art and Design, focusing on creative technologies and digital fabrication. Severla micro-grants were allocated to members of the group in 2016-17 for research and development. The exhibition features work by Ingrid Murphy, Jon Pigott, Aidan Taylor, myself and other members of staff.

I am showing two Mudbots that were developed as a direct application of Power of the Mud, my FabCre8 experiments with microbial fuel cells. Also on display are four recently made Insect Buzz objects.

 

The sounding, wearable objects are to be used in marches and events in support of an ecological society. The Insect Buzz prototypes are being developed as part of the EASTN-DC European research project. Early versions were tested in Extinction Rebellion and Strike for Climate protests in Cardiff.

 

Strike for Climate Cardiff 20 September 2019

 

Extinction Rebellion Summer Unrest July 2019

Global Climate Strike

Extinction Rebellion Festival

Going to Extinction Rebellion Wales’ Rebel Rising Festival, Borth 13th to 15th September.

 

“Extinction Rebellion’s biggest ever action is coming. In the weeks building up to it the rebels of the UK are gathering to get trained, get inspired and get ready.

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.

AI has been delayed

A quick note on a recent post by AI and robotics expert Rodney Brooks, from his blog largely focused on misconceptions about AI and its imminent takeover. The post dated May 17th 2019 is titled AGI has been delayed (A-rtificial G-eneral I-ntelligence). Brooks looks into the state of the art technology of autonomous cars and, informed by these observations, predicts that AGI, an artificial intelligence with the same versatility and adaptability as a human intelligence will not occur before 2300.

 

 

Brooks writes a short paragraph about the dangers of AI that rings very true with some of my current concerns:

“what does [the fact that autonomous cars are not to be around for another few decades]  say about predictions that AGI is just around the corner? And what does it say about it being an existential threat to humanity any time soon. We have plenty of existential threats to humanity lining up to bash us in the short term, including climate change, plastics in the oceans, and a demographic inversion. If AGI is a long way off then we can not say anything sensible today about what promises or threats it might provide as we need to completely re-engineer our world long before it shows up, and if when it does show up it will be in a world that we can not yet predict.”

 

 

Western Flag

Western Flag (Spindletop, Texas), John Gerrard 2017

One of my favourite artworks of recent years…

In a Channel 4 interview Gerrard describes oil as “a dynamic that allowed for a very particular change in society, allowed for hyper-mobility, changes in food and agriculture. Much of what we think of as ‘real’ is a petroleum reality. Heat, comfort, mobility, it all comes from petroleum.”

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