Lecture Performance
The Unheard | A Robot Project by K.A.K and CREW

Remote Intimacy - Moved by the Object.
by Laura Vandewynckel

Do animated inanimate objects have the power to move us in an intellectual, emotional and literal sense? Laura Vandewynckel investigates automata (mechanical puppets and robots) and their comforting, bridging and community-building potential.

Today we see automata have received an even bigger responsibility. In times of pandemics they have become the guardians of our physical and emotional well-being. Corona crowned IT king. Whoever fended off the digital screen lost his voice, his ears and his intimacy beyond 'the bubble'. However, are there alternatives to the sterile communication apps and devices?

In what way could the artist and his imagination contribute to this new 'remote-reality'? What automatic means could be used by the arts, the connecting practice by excellence, to bring people together?

Laura presents a motley cast of cuddly and self-cleaning robot-objects that with their questioning non-eyes, their pointed ear-substitutes and imaginary foul-mouths have been sent out onto the street to become the center of meaningful and corona-proof interaction rituals.

In this lecture performance she will shed a light on the scapegoat project Pharmakoi and Cat Consolation and share her experiences with the Unheard , a robot project in collaboration with the Belgian companies K.A.K. and CREW.

K.A.K and CREW designed the five megaphone-shaped robots as a creative response to the need to interact with each other during the pandemic lockdown. Interaction is important. Our loudspeakers serve not only to amplify our voice but as an invitation to listen and to speak.

The inspiration for the work comes from the book, Shy Radicals, the Antisystemic Politic of the Introvert Militant by Hamja Ashan, that sketches the contour of society based on the silence of the introverts. The robots are the representations of this voice along with other voices, including the elderlies whose fate has been a subject for debate by many. They represent the voices of young people who are prohibited from communing, the voice of those who speak in different tongues, and having difficulties following a public debate, artists who choose to remain silent, and those other mouths behind the masks. We drew inspiration from these voices who believe that the Corona is teaching us something; that we have an urgent need for a change, for solidarity, for cooperation, and how we care for our planet.