For the Tate Modern’s Hyundai Commission, conceptual artist Anicka Yi sought to create an installation that could prompt viewers to think about new ways that machines might inhabit the world. Through this work, she sought to ask viewers to think about removing distinctions between plants, animals, humans, and machines, and to consider how removing these distinctions affects our understanding of ourselves as humans, and the ecosystems we live in.
The team wanted to give visitors the opportunity to reflect on their relations with robots and artificial intelligence, and open their minds to new possibilities of collaboration and co-existence that subvert our current paradigm. The project sought to create an Aquarium of Machines; a space where audiences could experience a speculative future where artificial intelligence is thought of not as emulating and surpassing human intelligence, but rather a hybrid intelligence much closer to plants and animals.
Design + Execution
The team created an ecosystem with twelve autonomous airborne sculptural creatures, called Aerobes, that live in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall for four months. Each of the twelve Aerobes was given an artificial intelligence with its own motivations, perceptions, and goals; and based off of this behavioral modeling, was allowed to roam freely for the duration of the exhibition with no human intervention. The mysterious and sometimes playful behaviors of the Aerobes was designed to ask visitors to reconsider where the boundaries lie between life and machines, and new ways that we could share space and co-exist with them.
Nathan Lachenmyer (aerobe behavior design and development)
Sadiya Akasha (concept development)
Noah Feehan (technical lead)
Anicka Yi (concept and creative direction)
Petra Schmidt, Tate Modern (production manager, commissions)
Laura Lupton, New York (production consultation for Anicka Yi Studio)
Riley Duncan, Remina Greenfield, Hana Tran, Saul Valaitis (anicka yi studio)
AKA Media System, New York (technical lead)
Sitara Systems, Las Vegas (aerobe behaviour design and development)
Airstage, Riederich (aerobes)
Pozyx, Ghent (real-time location system based on usb technology)
KitMapper, London (technical crew)
millimetre, Brighton (battery pond)
Dr. Pamela Dalton, Philadelphia (scent consultation)
Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, International Flavors and Fragrances, Inc. (scents)
Jessica Baxter, Lynn Rothwell, Tate Modern (exhibition assistants)
Gareth Fox, Tate Modern (av technician)
Anicka Yi Studio