Vessels, a Research Residency at LABoral

The project by Sofian Audry, Stephen Kelly and Samuel St-Aubin includes 50 aquatic unmanned vehicles that interact among each other and with their immediate environmnent to create their own micro system.

Published: Aug 12, 2013
Vessels, a Research Residency at LABoral

Vessels by Sofian Audry, Stephen Kelly and Samuel St-Aubin. Photo: Courtesy of the artists.

By Semíramis González (@semiramis_glez), Semíramis en Babilonia.

Throughout August, the artistic residency by Sofian Audry, Stephen Kelly and Samuel St-Aubin, which is based on the Vessels project, will take place at LABoral.

Vessels is a collective work in which 50 aquatic vehicles interact among each other and with their immediate environment to create their own micro system.

This residency project, as with the main line of LABoral, supports technology and its relationship with art, but goes even further by exploring its relationship with human beings. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Vessels stems from a concept such as artificial life, something which might be seen as removed from artistic creation at first sight, yet in fact, it is highly relevant, especially in the way it connects with spectators and their interaction with the work.

Since art work stopped being an autonomous and aseptic entity, submitted to the tyranny of the pedestal, the history of art started to value all those approaches that were directly involved with life and the observer, who became an active agent to complete the meaning of the work.

Vessels works in this way: the 50 aquatic vehicles have two sensors which react to external stimuli, without it being possible to foresee what their responses may be; in such a manner, if one of them changes its behaviour in reaction to variations in sound, temperature, water or light, this will lead to its neighbours being affected by the change. In this way, a network of random behaviour is created while we become witnesses of the robots’ reactions, since they are completely autonomous with no central computer controlling their responses, and each work is turned into an independent organic laboratory, only in relation to its neighbours.

Vessels by Sofian Audry, Stephen Kelly and Samuel St-Aubin. Photo: Courtesy of the artists.

This creates a simple ecosystem generated by the robots themselves and their particular environment. In this case, a special swimming pool has been set up in the Sala de Proyectos [Projects Room] at LABoral where research into Vessels will be carried out until 31 of this month.


The other main part of this project is the reaction of the spectator: although the robots act in one way or the other depending on environmental stimulus, we are ultimately the ones who observe and interpret what is happening and determine the reasons for their change in behaviour. It is us who are able to attribute intentions and motivations to their actions, and thereby try to understand the relationship established between one work and another, and its links with the rest.

The robots are transformed into autonomous, independent beings, constantly adapting to their specific habitat where they live; their vague and uncertain movements at the start end up generating a collective learning which entails that a joint network of behaviours is created among all the works; this is a continuous narrative which involves adapting to external changes and getting accustomed to them, to achieve together that resilience is part of the process and the conclusion.


Vessels by Sofian Audry, Stephen Kelly and Samuel St-Aubin. Photo: Courtesy of the artists.

The conceptual approach which underpins this research is how the pieces are linked, imitating the way in which living beings communicate among each other, creating networks of activities that depend on our environment and our interaction with others. We also shouldn´t overlook the growing interest in our relationship with nature, our way of connecting in line with the behaviour of other living creatures and the potential this has for being fostered through technological development.

During the whole of August, while the artistic residency is being developed, various presentations will be made to the public who will be able to go to the exhibition hall and interact with the ‘live’ works.

With this project LABoral focuses again on the relationships between technology and creativity; it returns to a premise which was prominent in art throughout the 20th Century which is the union between art and life, something which, at the height of 2013, is very much related to artificial life and our relationship with robots and other electronic objects which have become part of our everyday lives, almost extensions of ourselves.

  • Information

  • Los Prados, 121
  • 33203 Gijón (Asturias)
  • Spain
  • Phone: +34 985 185 577
  • Contact


Personal tools
Log in