Andy Gracie: Proxy
The installation Proxy by Andy Gracie features a pair of almost identical robotic devices (named ‘Essence’ and ‘Possibility’) which have been designed to carry out the basic tasks involved in hunting for tardigrades and nematodes in samples of moss, lichen and earth. Tardigrades and nematodes are two of the most important organisms in current space flight and astrobiological research. Essence and Possibility owe much of their aesthetic and their purpose to the twin Mars rovers ‘Spirit’ and ‘Opportunity’ which have been roaming and experimenting upon the surface of the red planet since January 2004.
In Proxy we see a reversal in the normal relationships and assumed roles between humans and robots. Normally, humans send robots to dangerous, inaccessible or inhospitable places. Here its the artist that has undertaken excursions to mountainous regions for the purpose of collecting samples, which the robots can investigate in the ‘safe’ environment of the gallery space. On each occasion that PROXY is exhibited a new sample collecting expedition is made in a geographical region related to the exhibition venue.
Andy Gracie’s work is concerned with information systems contained within living organisms and ecosystems and how they may be accessed and processed through the use of technology. He is interested in using organisms as data processing systems in an effort to extract meaning and to examine how forms of robotic entity can become immersed in living networks. This interest extends to examining how organic and inorganic systems can be wired together through various channels, where communication and presence are realised by agency.