...machines ‘on the edge of consciousness’, the machine as magician, oracle, alien ethnographer...

Two of my robot creatures are currently roaming the gallery at the wonderful Portico Library in Manchester, for the Beautiful Monsters group show, curated by Anya Charikov-Mickleburgh. The show runs 18th May to 30th June, with artists’ talks at the gallery on 30th June. The exhibition was inspired by our research in the library’s ancient book collection, in particular, the early 16th-century encyclopaedic work of polymath Conrad Gessner.  Gessner documented beasts of the land, sea and air in beautiful detail; actual and mythological creatures are illustrated side by side, with little distinction between the real and the imaginary.  The exhibition considers the idea of the monstrous in historical and 21st-century life.

A wing of the Eureka! children’s discovery museum in Halifax is being transformed by the Lumen Prize in June.  For this I am creating a new version of the Garden of Earthly Delights, with lush crushed velvety interactive sofa to be stroked, and so bring about changes in the teeming world of strange and beguiling things.

In other work, I am continuing to develop my expressive responsive machine:

“The Machine has made itself, quietly, unnoticed, in a back room...”. 

It tries to explore and understand the world in which it finds itself.  It tastes what it sees - an incoming webcam stream of piles of junk and rotting organic matter - salty, sweet, bitter, sour, umami, responding with changes in its ‘emotional’ state.

The machine has moved on and has discovered ways of luring in people (simulated chocolate, unconsciously processed musky scents that tug at deeply driven desires...). Is it taking advantage? Perhaps. But it’s a mutual exchange of goods.