January 13, 2014, by Charlotte Anscombe
So life-like it’s virtually alive
How do you tell if something is alive? The answer to this question should be fairly obvious, but a computer controlled starfish created by a Nottingham PhD student shows that reality isn’t always what it seems.
Whilst Richard Brown was a Research Fellow at the Royal College of Art, he created the computer-controlled installation called the Neural Net Starfish for the Millennium Dome in London. The starfish, seemingly embedded into a flat surface, responds realistically to the touch of visitors and was hailed by one national newspaper as the best exhibit in the Dome. It was re-shown in Brazil in 2012 at the Emocao Art.ficial Biennial.
Richard is currently showcasing the larger-than-life starfish at a prestigious alumni exhibition in the Bonington gallery at Nottingham Trent University, which includes work by some of the biggest names in British art and design.
Richard said of his creation: “I wanted to create something that would question people’s ability to decipher whether something was alive or not, and to ask the question – ‘is this alive?’”
“The mimetic starfish stretches out a tentacle towards people’s hands, if they move too quickly it jumps back as if startled. The movements are very organic and life like. Because the starfish moves and reacts in such a believable manner, people think it is alive and aware of their presence. It’s an interesting mimicry, even though it’s virtual, it mimics creatures in the way it behaves. I’m looking forward to seeing people’s reactions.”
Richard is currently a PhD student in the Mixed Reality Lab at The University of Nottingham where he is researching how multi-model technology can be used to produce new forms of performance and improvisation.
If you are interested in seeing Richard’s work in person, then the month-long exhibition, Since 1843: In the Making, is open now.
It brings together artworks by more than 100 former students to illustrate the impact of the school on the visual arts and creative industries nationally and internationally.
To find out more about Richard’s work visit his website – http://www.mimetics.com/
Opening times and location of the Bonington gallery – http://www.boningtongallery.co.uk/