I found out recently about an excellent project: The Clearing, A Report From The Future by Alex Hartley and Tom James. They “set out to build a living, breathing encampment where people could learn how to live in the collapsing world coming our way.”
In 2017 they constructed with the help of volunteers a geodesic dome from scavenged materials and for several months invited people to workshops on skills that might be useful in the future (fire making, bread oven, democracy, radio, loo…).
Public engagement was very rich and a temporary community of sorts emerged. The artists have published a full report on the experience, photocopied by hand, with a cover made from used cardboard boxes. I recommend this informative and inspiring read.
A year after the end of the clearing, Hartley and James wrote that “the more time we spent at The Clearing, the better we felt. The Clearing made us feel hopeful, and confident, and capable, and even happy. Perhaps this is how it could be in the future> Softer and simpler and slower. Perhaps the end of this world, and the beginning of a new one, could even be good?”
“SUPERFREIGHT is an exhibition of work from four artists; Nadja Buttendorf, Paul Granjon, Dina Kelberman and Ian Watson, exploring how we live with, exchange and use technology in creating culture.”
Thus goes the blurb for a group show in Arcade Campfa, Cardiff UK where I have two new works: a set of 4 Insect Buzz electronic placards and The Future, an installation where people can air their views about the future by writing on the wall, talking at a special table, and listening to a strange talking flower thing.
Nadja Buttendorf and Sabrina Labis are showing 360º Nail, a slightly disturbing video featuring a fingernail-mounted action camera.
Ian Watson built a one-off stand out of self-made polystyrene pebbles where a vintage monitor plays a deep glitch text monologue with a groovy 80s video pixel vibe.
Dina Kelberman presents two artworks: I’m Google is a scrollable collection of found web images that deal with buildings, tech, domestic, DIY, and The Goal is to Live, a mesmerizing video collating segments of the well-known TV program How Things are Made.
Doodlebot workshop for kids in Barbican London, 23rd and 24th November, free! Just drop in between 10:00 and 16:00. Part of the Life Rewired season. Anybody aged 7+ can attend and take their Doodlebot home.
Next up in December, a 3 hours upcycling challenge for students in the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University. 11 teams are each given a PC tower to cannibalise and an Arduino to make an interactive module for some corner of the buiding.
And the seasonal Disobedient Objects project running until Christmas in Cardiff School of Art and Design. Photo below of a 40 minutes task: make a wearable device to defeat face recognition algorithms.
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.
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!
December 2017. The Garage contemporary arts centre invited me to wrek Russian e-waste with local participants and build some post-apocalypse trees as part of their 8th Art Experiment season. This year the theme was Laboratories of Earthly Survival. Curator Snejana Kratseva says:
“Each winter, Garage transforms its galleries into an experimental laboratory for art. Visitors of all ages are invited to participate in hands-on experiences with artists, as well as innovative creative collaborations between peers. Art Experiment is the flagship initiative of Garage Education and Public Programs and attracts students, parents, local residents, and Moscow visitors.
This year will be the eighth annual interactive initiative,focusing on science art and survival ethics. It will consist of hands-on experiments in “hacking” life sciences and equipping participants with skills in agricultural, biological, genetic as well as robo engineering, preparing kids and adults for an imaginary future after the world ended, cultivating a future generation of home-grown brand of “garage scientists” who will be able to not only to generate new inventions with low-fi materials but do so evaluating one’s ethical values with every new discovery.”
I knew there was little hope to get some exotic soviet era e-waste, and I was right. We got lots of Hewlett-Packard PCs, a crate of early 2000s Panasonic cameras and various other familiar consumer electronics items.
Other artists in the show were Anastasia Potemkina with an hydroponics installation for growing resilient, apocalypse resistant plants such as nettles, and the collective Where Dogs Run who had 20 odd live chicks providing the data for a vintage slide show and a great-looking electronic sculpture based on Dante’s inferno.
Art Experiment, Laboratories of Earthly Survival ran from December 19th 2017 to January 8th 2018.
Robotic artist Paul Granjon and bio-engineer Michka Melo are exploring the usability of microbial fuel cells for powering small robotic, sensing, interactive systems. Microbial fuel cells work by harnessing the electron-releasing capability of certain types of bacteria widely found in soil and mud. Paul and Michka have started working together on Microbial Fuel Cells, commonly known as Mud Batteries, in 2016.
Their batteries contain sediment mud from Barry Island, Wales. The mud is rich in bacteria of the Shewanella (below) or Geobacter type, that deliver bioelectrogenesis (generation of electricity by living organisms).
In September 2017 we showed our first working prototype in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Digital Design Weekend in London, here is the link to fully detailed report on our experiments on microbial fuel cells before the event.
We had a great time, lots of questions and interest with amazed, amused, puzzled looks. Our bacteria worked hard and slow, 12 mud batteries powering 2 small robots for 10 seconds every 10 minutes. The robots run from a BBC Microbit each, with a small motor and an LED.
Thanks to Irini Papadimitriou for inviting us!
photo: Martine Goldschmidt-Clermont
With support from FabCre8 @ Cardiff School of Art and Design
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
Wrekshop leftovers ready to go back to recycling facilities