Watershed residencies create drawing robot and rotting Geiger-Müller Sound System

By Ben Miller | 28 January 2013

A robot capable of making entirely original drawings from images and a rotting 19th century harmonium which could create a sound installation across the world are about to be presented to the public in Bristol, where a three-month programme at Watershed has allowed artists to experiment with technology to illuminating effect.

A photo of a hexagonal canvas with an artwork featuring brown, yellow and green
Juneau Projects' Capexagon is the result of an innovative residency at Watershed in Bristol
Working under their Juneau Projects moniker, artist duo Ben Sadler and Phil Duckworth have made a “drawing robot”, created in collaboration with Ad Spiers, a robotics specialist they met during their tenure at the venue’s Pervasive Media Studio.

“Meeting Ad has enabled us to take our investigation much further than we had imagined,” they admit.

A photo of a series of wood and metal mechanical implements on a wooden table
Geiger-Müller Sound System
“In just three months we have created a bespoke robot that translates drawings given to it and renders them as hand-drawn images.

“The robot has been programmed to control its own movement, resulting in a unique emergent drawing style.

“Our residency at Watershed was an exceptional opportunity to explore how technology can inform what we make, rather than being just a tool employed in the process.”

Sadler and Duckworth say they are “delighted” with the results, which bodes well for their intelligent being’s place in an exhibition at Ceri Hand Gallery in London next month, where it will produce live artworks every day.

The instrument at the centre of the Geiger-Müller Sound System – a collaboration between muso-artists Timothy X Atack and MrUnderwood – is less clinical.

Built in Stuttgart in 1889, their harmonium will have its reeds scattered through flea markets and junk stalls, with each code-embossed handmade unit identifiable.

They hope the instrument will be pieced back together in the future, rewarding those who stumble upon the parts long after they are disseminated later this year.

“We wanted to make something big, ambitious, possibly even a little bit dangerous during our residency at Watershed,” says Atack.

“We decided to create an artwork that we'd scatter to the wind, that in its very design would outlive us both.

“The world is full of so many things – technologies, consumables, government policies – that are designed for immediate gratification.

“This work will be made to last for as long as possible, and the artists who thought it up will, hopefully, never know what happens to it in the end.”

  • Showcase event takes place at Watershed on January 31. The exhibition, Infocalypse Stack, runs at Ceri Hand Gallery, London from February 22 until March 23.
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