Robo(ZOO) Proposal Short-Listed in Land Art Generator Initiative Competition


(Robo)ZOO: Stimulating a Mechanical Ecology, a design proposal from a KSA architecture seminar taught by Associate Professor Lisa Tilder, was short-listed in the Land Art Generator Initiative international design competition.  The KSA entry was one of twenty-five projects shortlisted, out of 250 entries from 39 countries.  The shortlist committee included individuals from the New York City art world, the NYC Departments of City Planning and Parks & Recreation, architects, designers, and more.

Robo(ZOO) and the other short-listed projects will be included in upcoming exhibitions, and will be featured in the book Regenerative Infrastructures, to be published by Prestel publishing (Spring 2013 release). Short-listed entries will be included in the following list of exhibitions:

Freshkills Sneak Peak

Exhibit takes place on September 23, 2012

SOHO Gallery for Digital Art
Exhibit takes place from October 25, 2012 – November 1, 2012

Dubai, UAE
Exhibit takes place throughout the month of January 2013

Arsenal Gallery (Central Park) (This will be coordinated with the book launch)
Exhibit is yet to be scheduled, but will take place sometime in the Summer of 2013

The 2012 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition called for proposals to transform Freshkills Park, a former landfill serving Manhattan, into a ‘productive and beautiful cultural destination will make the park a symbol of renewal and an expression of how our society can restore balance to its landscape.’

At Robo(ZOO), mechanical ghosts of extirpated flora ‘photosynthesize’ though solar paneled skin and power mechanical versions of fauna that once roamed, scurried, or flew about Staten Island.   These relationships construct a closed-loop energy system that sustains an artificial ecology.

Power producers (flora) and power consumers (fauna) engage in commensal symbiotic interaction. When their batteries run low, the creatures slow down and rely on the wind to migrate them to their nearest PowerPlant. Humans can speed up the power cycle by harvesting batteries - the fruit of the PowerPlants - and ‘feeding’ the mechanical creatures. The extra boost of energy breathes life into an artificial ecosystem.

The artificial beings retain the behaviors of their real-life counterparts to add educational meaning and create dynamic interspecies relationships between the plants, animals and humans.  The flora not only power the mechanical creatures, but provide respite with shade, seating and water for visitors.

The Allegheny Woodrat, a klepto-packrat takes garbage from visitors to build his nest. The solitary Canada Lynx roams a wider territory. The Passenger Pigeon carries special tokens that activate coin-operated binoculars, allowing glimpses of more elusive, distant creatures.  Because energy production drastically decreases during the winter months, animals would freeze in place and go into a hibernation mode until temperatures rise enough for life to return to the site.

The PowerPlants use Solar Ivy™, a new technology developed by MIT. These flexible, thin-film photovoltaics can be customized in shape and color to re-create each extirpated species. Each species of PowerPlant contains a specific range of leaves based on the estimated power capacity of the robotic animal in its territory. We predict that larger animals would require the energy produced by a small field of PowerPlants, medium-sized animals would use several plants and the smallest creatures would need only a few leaves for recharging their batteries.  On a larger scale, field sizes would correlate to the energy consumption of the species found in its area of the site.

With the energy collected through natural sources of wind and sun, these mechanical creatures create an artificial ecosystem that emphasizes the impact excessive human waste has on our environment.