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sougwen chung co-creates and meditates with multi-robotics through biosensors

art 209 shares connections: +1110

biological and mechanical gestures intertwine in assembly lines

 

A pioneer in the realm of human-machine collaboration, Chinese-Canadian artist and researcher Sougwen Chung has long explored the mark-made-by-hand and the mark-made-by-machine to delve into the dynamics between humans, AI systems, and robotics. The artist’s most recent work, Assembly Lines, spans research, dataset, performance, installation, and drawing, demonstrating a poetic exploration of co-creation between the biological and mechanical. The kinetic installation unfolds as a ceremonial collaboration between the artist and their new generation of custom robotic art assistants, beginning with a live 24 minute meditation in which Chung co-creates with the newly upgraded D.O.U.G._5 system. Through an E.E.G headset, the robotic arms synchronize with Chung’s biometrics, sensing and responding to their brainwaves with paintbrushes in hand, as the two together indulge in the centering rituals of drawing and meditation.

 

Across three large canvases, various modes of poignant brushstrokes between the human and machine, and organic and synthetic seamlessly intertwine — where the stillness of Chung becomes the conduit for painterly machine gestures and the biofeedback surpasses human creative intent. ‘In Assembly Lines, I’m exploring states of meditation through multi-robotic kinematics and biosensors. For me, the biosensors are linkages — they provide a means of connecting to a different way of being and expression. Channelled through the design of a multi-robotic system operating as a single organism, a different way to think about machines and technology,’ Sougwen Chung shares with designboom.

sougwen chung’s installation co-creates & meditates with multi-robotics through biosensors
all images © Paula Virta / Espoo Museum of Modern Art unless stated otherwise | video & image © Peter Butterworth

 

 

a meditative fusion of instinctive human-robotic co-creation

 

‘The performance that activates Assembly Lines is a ritual. It begins with a meditation in which the audience is invited to sit, meditate, and reflect with me. It provides a space of dynamic contemplation and stillness, as the multi-sensory components of movement, drawing, and sound fill the space of the performance environment, and paint strews about the canvas. It is an unfolding of a quiet, daily, personal ritual, in the space of a kinetic installation,’ explains the artist.

 

With Assembly Lines, Sougwen Chung engages in an intuitive explorative process to build a relational, robotic system to influence an internal process; a reinforcing configuration. Beyond technological automation and led by instinct, expressive, abstracted brushstrokes marked by the biological and mechanical unveil an immersive experience of improvisational creativity. The synchronous movements of Chung and D.O.U.G._5 explore instinctive rhythms of painting, a product of both improvisational and computational intent. Further, rendering an immersive, multi-sensorial sonic environment, the motions and sweeping lines reverberate across the gallery as brushstrokes meet canvas, evoking a composition of neural and synaptically linked gestures. ‘In the installation, we brought in contact mics which sonify the robotic movements in an octophonic sound environment by Neda Senai, set to a score integrating birdsong and natural field recordings by composer Aquarian.’

sougwen chung’s installation co-creates & meditates with multi-robotics through biosensors
Sougwen Chung co-creates and meditates with D.O.U.G._5 — a custom multi-robotics system

 

 

sougwen chung unveils the kinetic installation at emma

 

While robotics are often used as tools of labor in factories and industrial manufacturing, Sougwen Chung sets out to deconstruct this definition by re-establishing them as spaces of gathering, contemplation, ceremony, and collaboration. ‘In Assembly Lines, I’m suggesting an alternative to the automated process of an assembly line — building configuration of human and machine linked to a state of presence, stillness, of a kind-of ‘inactivity’ in service of something beyond mere-extension. The title of the work is a play-on-words,’ the artist shares.

 

The resulting paintings were exhibited as artefacts from the performance alongside a short film titled Assembly Lines: Expanse [extending] (now part of the museum’s permanent collection) at Espoo Museum of Modern Art (EMMA), in Finland, between 27 August 2022 and 15 January 2023. Part of the In Search of the Present group exhibition, Assembly Lines questions: ‘What new relational perspectives can emerge when human and machine subjects create on the same plane.’ Arja Miller, EMMA’s lead curator tells designboom: ‘We were extremely excited to have produced and presented a new work from Sougwen Chung within the In Search of the Present exhibition at EMMA. The art work, Assembly Lines, was based on the artist’s unique performance with their multi robotic system and it was a perfect fit with the exhibition’s theme of the complex interactions between technology, nature, human thought, and AI.’

sougwen chung’s installation co-creates & meditates with multi-robotics through biosensors
an exploration of co-creation between the biological and mechanical

sougwen chung’s installation co-creates & meditates with multi-robotics through biosensors
an E.E.G headset connects the robots arms with Sougwen Chung’s biometrics, responding with brushstrokes

sougwen-chung-assembly-lines-designboom-13

sougwen chung’s installation co-creates & meditates with multi-robotics through biosensors
creating a multi-sensorial sonic environment, the motions and sweeping lines reverberate across the gallery

sougwen chung’s installation co-creates & meditates with multi-robotics through biosensors
the installation began with a 24 minute collaborative meditation

sougwen-chung-assembly-lines-designboom-16

image © Peter Butterworth

sougwen chung’s installation co-creates & meditates with multi-robotics through biosensors
Assembly Line premiered at EMMA, Finland, as part of a group exhibition

 

 

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image © Peter Butterworth
image © Peter Butterworth
image © Peter Butterworth
image © Peter Butterworth

project info:

 

name: Assembly Lines

designer: Sougwen Chung 

exhibition at: Espoo Museum of Modern Art | 27 August 2022 and 15 January 2023

photography: Paula Virta / EMMA — Espoo Museum of Modern Art

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