Our Friends Electric Exhibition (2017)

boredomresearch are exhibiting the next iteration of  their Robots in Distress simulation in the Our Friends Electric Exhibition at QUAD, Derby (1 July – 10 September 2017).

“There has been a glut of recent news reports that obsess with the idea of robots and AI replacing humans in the workplace. We fear apocalyptic scenarios of AI machines rebelling against us; yet advances in robotics, AI and synthetic biological research also point to a bright future free of disease, where we live longer and our lives are made easy. The artists gathered together for Our Friends Electric draw inspiration from front-line scientific research, yet provide a creative – and emotive – understanding to the continuing moral and ethical questions that surround new and evolving technology.” QUAD, Derby (2017)

boredomresearch’s Robots in Distress project ponders the nexus of biology, robotics and environments impacted by increased human activity; confronting the emergence of synthetic emotions in challenging environmental circumstances. boredomresearch present a murky underwater world populated by glowing craft. Navigating the hazards of a terrain heavily polluted with plastic waste these craft are learning to recognise and express hopelessness. This expression of emotional robotics inquires on the relationship between organism and its environment and responding to an increased dependence on advanced technological solutions.

The work follows boredomresearch’s FEAT residency at the Artificial Life Lab (Karl Frazens Universität, Graz Austria) in 2016 where boredomresearch gained an insight into the process by which highly engineered and technologically advanced, robotic interventions are conceived, designed and fabricated. The lab is developing a community of bio-inspired robots, operating, in the heavily human polluted environment of the Venice lagoon. These highly engineered robots, often start life as experiments built from freely available materials, including the very same plastic waste that pollutes marine environments.  Mirroring this process boredomresearch worked with a subCULTron engineer to explore the motion dynamics of micro-controlled plastic waste, which later informed the craft seen exploring the mysterious underwater world of the artwork.

FEAT is funded by the EU backed programme FET (Future and Emerging Technologies) Open. It has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 686527 (H2020-FETOPEN-2015-CSA).