An art/science programme exploring how human technologies could relate to the environment the way organisms do.
Pioneers like al Jazari already made programmable automata around 1200AD. Complex machines have therefore been part of our environment for many centuries. Human infrastructures came to really dominate the planet since the Industrial Revolution. The word that comes to mind is brutality. Edward O. Wilson described our current age of mass extinction as the ‘Age of Loneliness’ and in many ways our technologies in these shared and biodiverse environments have been technologies of loneliness that violate natural processes, disturb habitats and crush biodiversity.
Human technologies and infrastructures populate a planet still teaming with a bewildering array of life. But we design for the needs and wants of just one of those species, ad tedium. In a world full of creatures we've only been talking to ourselves. What would it be like to work for a much broader audience? What if we include the other 99,99% of life?
The often heared ambition to 'reconnect to nature', implies accepting ourselves as nature. Including all our artifacts, infrastructures and machines. If we see them - our extended technological body - as nature, we can nolonger design them as if they are not. Then the other 99.99% of life becomes part of the frame of reference in which human technologies are developed.
Machine Wilderness aims to take a radical turn towards the great wealth of non-human life. What could an ecologically inclusive practice look like? How do you engage with the levels of complexity, subtlety and grace of life? What could technology look like if our technologies related to landscapes in the way organisms do; participating in local material flows, food-chains and layers of communication?
Can our tools help us rejoin the Great Conversation with life?
Machine Wilderness is based on long-term research by Theun Karelse at FoAM and developed into a programme in collaboration with Alice Smits of Zone2Source. This programme is centered on public events - like symposiums, exhibitions or workshops- and fieldwork sessions where teams of people with diverse backgrounds and ways of knowing develop methodologies and prototypes of wilderness machines that try to engage with local environmental complexity.
These prototypes are not looking for technological fixes to environmental issues, but rather focus on the underlying rationale that shapes our thinking about the role of technology. The protoypes are not an end in themselves, but rather a means towards environmental literacy. Unlike bio-mimicri, nature is not seen as a source of inspiration for human design, but as biomes for technology to adhere to. A series of landscapes serve as case studies to engage with distinct sets of circumstances and local environmental complexity.
Machines are human artifacts that embody our ambitions and intentions. Robotic systems are particularly revealing because they have agency similar to biological organisms. This makes them a particularly attractive subject for exploration. The Machine Wilderness program starts from the viewpoint of organisms (and technologies) as interacting populations surfing collectively on the geological and meteorological currents that carry them.
residencies @ Glazen Huis
Aim: an artist-in-residency & exhibition showing artistic research processes
With: Ian Ingram, Rihards Vitols, Jip van Leeuwenstein, Driessens/Verstappen
presentation @MicroClima in Venice
Aim: presentation and fieldtrip in the Venice lagoon to explore possible fieldwork opportunities
With: Roland Fischer, Paolo Rosso, Alice Smits, Ivan Henriques, Theun Karelse
panel discussion and workshop @ Transmediale festival
Aim: exploring animal behavior as a basis for design
With: Theun Karelse, Matthew Creasey
exhibition @ Victoria and Albert Museum Sep 24to25/2016
Theme: digital design weekend, Engineering the Future
With: Ian Ingram, Matthew Creasey, Antti Tenetz, Spela Petric, Alice Smits, Theun Karelse
workshop at Pixelache festival Sept 22/2016
Theme: seeing city infrastructure from animal perspectives
With: Clemens Driessen, Theun Karelse
presentations at PopinnPark June 17/2016
Theme: Robotics and Interspecies Communication
With: Ian Ingram, Clemens Driessen
workshop @ Montefeltro
Theme: the ‘elemental’ tangibility of sensory design + sensory landscapes
By: Judith van der Elst
workshop @ Zone2Source April 29to30/2016
Theme: dye sensitised solar cells from local pigments
By: Ivan Henriques
workshop @ Zone2Source April 07to09/2016
Theme: sensory design + sensory landscapes
By: Judith van der Elst
first Machine Wilderness workshop @ FoAM Kernow Nov 12to15/2015
Aim: first Machine Wilderness workshop exploring in-situ prototying methods
By: Amber Griffiths, Ivan Henriques, Judith van der Elst, Alice Smits, Theun Karelse
opening symposium @ Artis Royal Zoo Nov 02/2015
Aim: bringin together a wide array of speakers for Machine Wilderness
By: Prof. Dr. Gusz Eiben, Prof. Em. Petran Kockelkoren, Dr. Erik de Jong, Kenzo Kusuda, ir. Paul Roncken, Spela Petric, Xavier San Giorgi, Anouk Visser, Reinier Kop, Ivan Henriques, Judith van der Elst, Alice Smits, Theun Karelse