Carnivorous Domestic Entertainment Robots Project
One of the special mentions in the VIDA 11.0 exhibition went to Carnivorous Domestic Entertainment Robots project by James Auger, Jimmy Loizeau, Alex Zivanovic, and Trevor Harvey currently exists as a series of five semi-operational prototypes: Mousetrap coffee table robot, Lampshade robot, Cobweb robot, UV fly killer parasite robot, and Flypaper robotic clock . The robots take the form of beautiful and fashionable furniture and household accessories, which perform functions that range from lighting a room to low-key (and admittedly dark) entertainment. But more primarily, the very process that allows the robots to run by supplying them with power also has the function of ridding the household of pests. Each robot has a microbial fuel cell that converts organic matter, ensnared by the robot, into electrical energy: a mechanized iris built into the top of a table traps mice, a lampshade has holes that allow insects in but not out, a small robotic armature picks flies from cobwebs that spiders build into it.
The key design metaphor in use here is at once that of a novel energetic recyling machine, and a somewhat cruel spectacle of entrapment that mimics the sophistication of predatorial plants and insects. Although there is a strong element of irony in the project, it nonetheless seems only fitting that our relationships with domestic robots should incorporate some of the darker features that characterize relationships in nature.