What's it like to share the world with machines that can live in the wild and evolve on their own? Artist Anika Yee offers a vision of a new ecosystem in Turbine Hall, a large post-industrial space in the heart of Tate Modern.
The artist's creations are "smart" flying robots that react to their surroundings and the people in them using electronic sensors. The signals transmitted affect them both individually and as a group. "Aerobes communicate with each other in ways we don't understand. It's like the dance of a bee or the pheromone trail of ants," Tate Modern said in a press release.
The objects are divided into planulae (bulb-like in shape) and xenodusa (with colorful tentacles). Inspired by ocean creatures and mushrooms, these helium-filled forms move through the air thanks to rotors and small batteries. According to Yee, all together they create an "ecosystem" in the museum, interacting with their surroundings and visitors and exhibiting individual and group behavior.
Another element of Yee's work is smells: the artist "sculpts" the air, creating, in her own words, "aroma landscapes". Like the behaviour of robots, the combination of scents diffused in the room changes over the course of the exhibition.
Yee is known for her experimental work that explores the fusion of technology and biology. Breaking down the differences between plants, animals, microorganisms and machines, she asks us to think further about understanding ourselves as humans and the ecosystems in which we live.