Are we now fully immersed in the age of machines? This is the question that we will all be asking, from 3rd June to 3rd July 2016, during the international cultural rendezvous organised by ELEKTRA and the Arsenal Contemporary Art space in Montreal, as part of the major exhibition for the 3rd International Digital Art Biennial (BIAN). An exhibition with as theme AUTOMATA: art made by machines for machines. ...

Whistleblowers, virtual reality, robotics and the future of culture at European Lab 2016

The Arty Farty team (Nuits Sonores) has achieved a superb European Lab Forum centred on attentively and proactively involving the youth of Europe in terms of cultural policy against a European backdrop under strain. Is culture a factor for democracy? This is no longer an issue for the organisers of the biannual event (winter edition in Paris), leading by example at the heart of a definitively political and connected forum. ...

Bill Vorn

Born and living in Montreal, Bill Vorn is active in the field of Robotic Art since 1992. His installation and performance projects involve robotics and motion control, sound, lighting, video and cybernetic processes. He pursues research and creation on Artificial Life and Agent Technologies through artistic work based on the Aesthetics of Artificial Behaviors. ...

Hunting Trophies

Director: France Cadet.
Hunting trophies is an interactive installation involving a collection of 11 robotic trophies hung on the wall, made from I-Cybie robotic dogs and featuring the most frequent species used in taxidermy. They are hung on the wall in two staggered lines, with the deer-like species, which are more proud, above arrogantly gazing down at you and the cat-like species which are more aggressive, below, looking you straight in the eye. An infrared sensor allows them to detect the presence and the movements of visitors. As you approach, the robots turn their heads in your direction, their eyes light up, come too close and the robot suddenly growls. The closer you get, the more aggressive they become. If you walk fast facing the wall of trophies, a chain reaction will emerge such as a wave of protestation following your walk. These robots allow me to embody questions concerning animals rights and the complex relationship between humans and animals, in this case hunting. They are here considered as a sort of burlesque illustration, an ironic allegory. Descartes’ idea of animal-Machine was ousted by the idea of a pain-feeling animal (Peter Singer) then by the idea that an animal could be the subject of moral concern, thus blurring the boundaries between human and animal. Simultaneously machines became more and more life-like and are considered by certain people today, to be capable of acting as moral agents too. We observe that these notions are merging and that we are moving towards Donna Haraway’s model of modern science in which the distinctions between natural and artificial are completely restructured. These animals-robots are a possible metaphor of these new life forms. They assemble recognizable characteristics from existing species. On the other hand they have generic characteristics and the same size as if they all belonged to the same species. They seem to be normalized, their biodiversity and taxonomic ranks & boundaries erased occulting notions of species, genus, family, order, class… and life. The standardization of our future natural world implies new life forms and more or less a unique species of wildlife. I am conscious that these shiny robots are far away from Steve Baker’s idea of botched taxidermy (“The Postmodern animal”) but I am precisely interested in this paradoxical and self-contradictory use of robots – something new symbolizing cutting edge interactive technology - used here for the representation of hunting trophies - something old and traditional symbolizing death.  I intentionally worked with the design of cute Japanese-looking robots also because this installation raises questions about domestic robots and robots in general, about their quality, their function and their integration into society.  These trophies can be seen as a memento of those endangered animals and those species which have vanished, but also as a token of human victory over technology, a symbolic robotics achievement.
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