TECHnique is an event and podcast where artists tell their stories, explain their choices and the lessons that they have learned in the many projects that they’ve taken part in. It was organised by
@CreateHubUK on Thursday 11th August at the Google Campus in London. A nice 15minute walk from Farringdon station – just enough to catch some Pokemon.
4 artists told their stories. The speakers included Fiddian Warman (Soda), Bhavani Esapathi (The Invisible Labs), Richard Adams (Royal Shakespeare Company) and Debbie Davies (International Artist). Here are a few things I caught about each of them:
Fiddian is a digital artist with a background in furniture design. He is a specialist in electronics, robotics, screen display technology and other geeky stuff. He’s also the Director and one of the founders of Soda. Formed in 1996, Soda is a team of artists, educational specialists, developers and game designers that develop creative tools to help schools, communities and businesses work, play and learn together. They’re best known for their BAFTA-winning online construction environment, Sodaplay.
One of the projects Fiddian talked about was: Neurotic and the Punk Voice Choir – Neural Networks – a form of AI
“In the performance work, Neurotic, giant pogo-ing robots attend 3 punk gigs. Neurotic questions how learning develops through the empathetic responses of the brain. The robots’ own neural networks are modelled on so-called ‘mirror neurons’ in the brain which stimulate mimicry. Each robot is exposed to punk records that Fiddian collected as a youth. The intention is that the robots develop their neural connectivity through ‘listening’.”
The Invisible Labs is a project that brings artists and scientists together. Some of the things they do:
- Invisible Health Data Project – collecting health data which isn’t being worked on, like autoimmune disorder stories.
- Building a diagnostic tool illustrated by real life stories
- Brighton Digital Festival
- Sculpture the will show what an autoimmune disorder looks like.
The work that Bhavani does is incredibly inspirational.
I’ve already had the pleasure of listening to Richard talk, at the DIBI2016 conference in Edinburgh that I went to a couple of months ago. You can read about it here.
Richard started his Art + Technology career in Interactive TV. This was the time before the internet when interacting with technology was just beginning. There were no examples so it was like working in the wild west.
“Computers are useless. They can only give you answers”
Picasso was right. It is the artist who should ask the questions and look for the answers. Is taking a picture and putting an Instagram filter on it Art? Is this not just the output of someone else’s thinking? For Richard, this is not Art with a capital ‘A’ – just art. The real photography is the one you do with just a camera – no filters, no retouching.
The Function of Art is moving people with what we do. It doesn’t matter if they like it, hate it, get angry with it – we move them – and that is what Art should be
Future Project: A hackable play about the ethics of AI -> Will definitely keep an eye out for that one.
Debbie, for years now, has been creating Interactive Art. According to her, technology has always influenced artists in how they approach their work. Art is restrained by costs and technology. She also makes videos and speaks out on the subject of ‘collaboration’.
Some of the projects Dd has worked on:
- Luma Module – an interactive spaceship for Burning Man 2013. It’s a machine that measures your ‘inner light’ and dispenses a ball to you, the colour of which is dependant on your readout. The more people interact with Luma the more her engine cowls will light up with UV balls. The balls fell according to the sweatiness of you palm. People could decide what to do with the balls. So Debbie went in with one sculpture and came out with a new one. At the end, the sculpture was burnt. These type of sculptures are mysterious – people don’t really understand how they work. It’s funny how that makes them believe in these sculpture more.
- Fuck Love – a game played by two, whereby a machine analyses the players’ compatibility resulting in one of three verdicts being given, delivered by two hearts that hang on the wall in front of them. At the end of the game, the participants are advised to “Fuck”, “Love” or “Fuck Love”.
- StarWay – another interactive sculpture where each one of the stars lights up internally if you are in possession of a ‘wishing star’. These ‘wishing stars’ once presented and placed on the ‘wishing star console’, result in one of the stars to light up in pink. Once the wish is made, the star that lit up for you will return to shining white but it shines 25% brighter as a result of your interacting with it.