Synapse ARC Linkage Grant

Fish Bird: Autonomous Interaction in a Contemporary Setting

Fish-Bird at Ars Electronica 2004

Fish-Bird at Ars Electronica 2004

From July 2003 – June 2006, ANAT was an Industry Partner alongside the Australia Council for the Arts, Museum of Contemporary Art, Artspace and Partick Systems and Technology on a Synapse Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant.

The project placed new media artist Mari Velonaki in residence at the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR), University of Sydney for three years. The residency aims to develop a new interactive artwork Fish-Bird: Autonomous Interaction in a Contemporary Arts Setting, with Investigators from the ACFR Dr David Rye, Steve Scheding and Stefan Williams.

ANAT’s role was to provide consultancy and support to the project, and was an important partnership for ANAT as it created new industry links as well as supporting an innovative residency program between a new media artist and a key research centre.

As it was later named, Fish-Bird Circle B-Movement C, explored the dialogical possibilities between two autokinetic objects (two robotic wheelchairs) and their audience. Assisted by integrated writing arms, the chairs write intimate letters on the floor, impersonating two characters, Fish and Bird, who fall in love but cannot be together due to ‘technical difficulties’.

In their shared isolation, Fish and Bird communicate intimately with one another and their visitors via movement and text.

Fish-Bird was an extremely successful and innovative project, with Mari’s contribution to the ARC assisting with key areas of research and development. In turn, the scientific skills creatively applied to the development of the robotic wheelchairs has resulted in new possibilities for the use of robotics in health science.

Mari Velonaki – Original concept /art direction
David Rye – Mechatronic System Design
Steve Scheding – Software Architecture
Stefan Williams – Tracking System and Software Design

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