Material Beliefs is a network of scientists, engineers and designers exploring technologies which extend the interaction between silicon and cells. By expanding current laboratory research through speculative designs, the project aims to create prototypes and curate public events which encourage a discussion about how emerging technologies might become situated within society.
Material Beliefs takes emerging biomedical and cybernetic technology out of labs and into public spaces. The project focuses on technologies which blur the boundaries between our bodies and materials, and how design as a tool for public engagement can be used to stimulate discussion about the value of these forms of hybridity. Rather than focusing on the outcomes of science and technology, Material Beliefs approaches research as an unfinished and ongoing set of practices, happening in laboratories and separate from public spaces.
Material Beliefs have designed four works, Carnivorous Domestic Entertainment Robots (2008), Neuroscope (2008), Vital Signs(2008), and We Live What We Eat (2008) responding to microbial fuel cells, networked neural cell cultures, body worn biometric sensors, and the impact of nutrition upon life-span. Material Beliefs is based at Goldsmiths, University of London, and is supported by the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council).
Carnivorous Domestic Entertainment Robots
Auger-Loizeau and Aleksandar Zivanovic, with Julian Vincent, Centre for Biomimetic and Natural Technologies, Bath University.
In the context of the home, definitions of what a robot is and could be are open for interpretation. These robots are devices for utility, drama and entertainment. They exist in a similar way to an exotic pet such as a snake or a lizard, where we provide living prey and become voyeurs in a synthesized, contrived microcosm. The predatory nature of these autonomous entities raise questions of life and death, taking us out of the moral comfort zone regarding the mechanized taking of life.
Tobie Kerridge with Tony Cass, Olive Murphy and Nick Oliver, Institute of Biomedical, Imperial College
Vital Signs are a set of prototypes exploring the impact of networked body sensors on child monitoring. Tracking and location services would be extended by incorporating live biometric signals, including respiration, heartbeat and movement. Vital Signs demonstrates how absent bodies are transformed into data and broadcast across networks to become expressed as behaviours in products.