On 2 March 2017 The Bot Club took a critical look at a world in which bots, algorithmic agents and generative processes do the work. Helping to place this world centre stage are media artist and bot-maker, Matthew Plummer-Fernandez, and Me You and the Robot.
Bots write books, weather forecasts, sports reports and Wikipedia entries. Lots of Twitterers are bots. Other algorithmic agents conjure up game worlds autonomously, compose dance tracks, write film scripts, and edit news streams – factual or otherwise. They produce functional design solutions, which are beyond human comprehension, and are now unbeatable at almost all mind sports. For a long time, bots rarely appeared in the foreground and worked in secret. The Bot Club aimed to change this by inviting bots to take centre stage. What does this new society of humans and bots look like?
Matthew Plummer-Fernandez is a British-Colombian media artist who explores everyday entanglements with software automation. He shares his research in his well-respected blog algopop. In 2014 he received an Award of Distinction at Ars Electronica. He also curated the exhibition The Art of Bots at Somerset House in London. At The Bot Club he gave us an insight into bot culture and its context by presenting some of his own work and bots by other makers.
Matthew Plummer-Fernandez showed the following clips during his presentation. Webdriver Torso is a bot that makes clips from slides with blue and red square compositions. Word Wars is a bot made by Julien Deswaef that makes breaking news messages in Star Wars style.
Me You and the Robot
Me You and the Robot is a collaboration between Henrique Nascimento and Erik Vlemmix. They research how the deployment of new technologies leads to the creation of new labour conditions in which existing jobs are not replaced by new kinds of labour. Their work surveys new ways to define our existence beyond the definitions generated by work.The project comprises a work environment in which algorithms take on the role of moderator, while people discuss a topical subject from the real world. Guided by a set of debating rules, the robot intervenes in the dialogue by providing image references in real time and balancing the conversation between people.