Robots in Distress: A 3D real-time artwork of an underwater terrain heavily polluted with plastic waste depicting a simulation of craft learning to recognise and express hopelessness.

Authors: Isley, V., Smith, P. and boredomresearch

Place of Publication: Brussels; Dundee Scotland; QUAD Derby.

boredomresearch, Isley and Smith’s artwork ‘Robots in Distress’ 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 an EU Horizon 2020 funded FEAT (Future Emerging Art & Technology) 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 an engineer in the a-life lab to explore the motion dynamics of micro-controlled plastic waste, which later informed the craft seen exploring the mysterious underwater world of the artwork. Robots in Distress was exhibited in the FEAT exhibition programme at: LifeSpace, Dundee (April-June 2017) and BOZAR, Center for Fine Arts, Brussels (Sept 2017). Other invited and peer-reviewed exhibitions include: SUBMERGED, SciArt Center Online Exhibition (2017-18) and Our Friends Electric , QUAD, Derby (2017).

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