Robotic Art Installation Intrigues Tate Modern Tanks Visitors

A Middlesex University student, who formed part of an impressive team of artists, designers and engineers, has seen his work shown at the internationally renowned  Tate Modern gallery.
Product Design and Engineering student Djorn Fevrier (23) played a key role in the construction of a unique delta robot arm. Thought to be the largest ever made, the piece was suspended from a 21 metre ceiling-mounted track in the Tate Modern’s new basement exhibition space titled The Tanks.
Djorn was part of a team from Middlesex University, University College London and Kings College London, led by artist Ruairi Glynn, who unveiled their piece titled ‘Fearful Symmetry’ on Tuesday 21 August. The interactive installation featured a range of technology including Microsoft Kinect cameras, such as those found on the popular Xbox games console, which helped the robot respond to visitors as they approached, encouraging them to become an active part of the display.
Middlesex University design engineering lecturer Dr Zivanovic who provided robotics expertise on the project said: “Building such a large scale robotic arm was a fantastic challenge and it was exciting to see the results of our hard work on show at a gallery as prestigious at the Tate Modern. The project not only resulted in a stimulating piece of art work, but it was also designed as a research tool to help us study how people interact with robots and to create new art forms through the pairing of traditional puppetry with technology.”
It’s been a busy summer for Djorn Fevrier as the West London resident (Hayes) has also been designing costumes for the Notting Hill Carnival. He said: “It was challenging balancing two large scale projects at the same time, as it meant spending all day working on the art piece and then working late into the night on the Carnival costumes, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a piece I helped create displayed in one of the leading art galleries.  It’s been an incredible experience working on the project from its inception all the way to seeing it displayed at Tate Modern.  Visitors were really intrigued by it and I loved seeing them interact with it.”
Middlesex University’s design engineering expertise and manufacturing capabilities were called upon for the ambitious piece by artist Ruairi Glynn.  The large delta robot and track was constructed by the Middlesex team in the University’s workshops led by technical tutor Spike Melton.  
Following its appearance at the Tate Modern, the adaptable installation is likely to tour both nationally and globally.

Photo:  Simon Kennedy

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