Vessels, an aquatic robotic installation by Sofian Audry, Stephen Kelly and Samuel St-Aubin

The Canadian artists and researchers have been carrying out a residency in Plataforma 0. Production Centre of LABoral to develop their project

Published: Aug 30, 2013
Vessels, an aquatic robotic installation by Sofian Audry, Stephen Kelly and Samuel St-Aubin

The acuatic robots interact among each other and with their environment forming a simple ecosystem. Photo: LABoral/B. Orviz

The Canadian artists and researchers Sofian Audry, Stephen Kelly and Samuel St-Aubin have been carrying out a residency throughout August in Plataforma 0. Production Centre of LABoral to work on the project Vessels, a robotic installation consisting of large groups of autonomous water vehicles.

Vessels include 50 aquatic unmanned vehicles that interact among each other and with their environment forming a simple ecosystem. The social interactions in their collective behaviour resemble those in a community of living beings. Observers can empathise with the robots’ behaviour, attribute intentions and motivations to their actions and draw the correlations between group dynamics and the invisible features of their surroundings.

While moving on water, each of the robots collect and interpret data from different environmental conditions such as water and air quality, temperature, ambient light, sound, etc. Since no single agent has more than one or two sensors, they depend on communicating with each other to form a complete awareness of their environment. However, the robots do not simply exchange scientific readings: instead they communicate through behaviours and interactions. For example, an increase in temperature sensed by one agent may cause it to act more aggressively, with erratic or irrational (random) movements. This change in behaviour will influence its neighbouring agents, who may respond with relative changes to their own behaviour. These agents will in turn influence their neighbours, thus creating a ripple effect of actions. Over time, a collective behaviour that is specific to the immediate environmental characteristics of the presentation site emerges from the agents’ interactions. The work thus acts as an organic laboratory that responds to hidden features of the urban ecosystem by displaying emergent social behaviours, offering the viewers a new perspective on their living milieu and a model for cultural exploration.

Audry, Kelly, and St-Aubin are using the Art Center’s FabLAB to finalize the production phase of Vessels. The material structure of the robots consists of laser-cut acrylic as well as various custom hardware and electronics. Final soldering tasks and testing must be carried out for each circuit component. Experiments are also underway to finalize the aesthetic of each boat with a cast rubber enclosure. The team are producing between 10 and 20 robots. Using an indoor test pool located in LABoral's Sala de Proyectos, they are researching and developing software to manage the group behaviours of the robot collective.

Biographies
Sofian Audry holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Sciences and Mathematics and a master’s degree in Computer Science (Machine Learning) from the University of Montreal. Since 2004, he developed numerous installations and web projects, both individually and collectively. He joined the artist-run center Perte de Signal in 2005 and has recently completed a master’s degree in Communication (Interactive Media) (UQAM, 2010). He is currently a Ph. D. student in the Humanities program (Concordia University). Sofian Audry works in a niche that mixes computer and electronic technologies with social and cognitive mechanisms. His work has been presented in Canada, Europe and Asia in many festivals and exhibition centers.
http://sofianaudry.com

Stephen Kelly is an artist, computer programmer and musician living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has exhibited and participated in residency programs both nationally and internationally. His work incorporates sound, electronics, mechanics, and other media in the creation of thematically diverse, often complex systems of cultural exploration. Interested in the intersections between audio art and music, Stephen builds unique musical instruments and approaches sound recording as a creative process. His most recent musical project is The Just Barelys. Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Stephen has a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design and is currently studying computer science at Dalhousie University. He plans to continue crossing art and science within public installations and ongoing research projects in Machine Learning.

http:/ /stephenkelly.ca

Samuel St-Aubin has a college degree in Electronics and Telecommunications. Since 2003, he has been involved in many electronic and sound art projects. He lives and works in Montreal. He has taken an active role within the Drone collective, creating rich electronic interfaces in the interactive installation produced by the group. Since then, he has worked with many different new technologies like Wireless sensors, micro processing and realtime data processing. Through the multiple art projects he has worked on, Samuel St- Aubin has developed a personal vision of electronic interactive art that he his continually nourrishing with new projects and ideas. He is active member of artist-run center Perte de signal.

http://samuelsstaubin.com

Vídeo
More information:
http://vessels.perte-de-signal.org
and
http://www.laboralcentrodearte.org/es/recursos/obras/vessels

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