Just Your Garden Variety Robots: A Conversation

  • Danger, Squirrel Nutkin!, 2009
    Danger, Squirrel Nutkin!, 2009

Just Your Garden Variety Robots: A Conversation 

Wednesday, February 23, 5:30-6:30 pm

Coinciding with the Beall Center for Art + Technology’s exhibition by artist Ian Ingram, this conversation between the artist, UCI neurobiologist Steve Mahler, and UT Dallas art history professor Charissa Terranova explores the process of collaboration for works in the current exhibition. Topics include animal morphology, robotic avatars, and furtive technology in natural environments—specifically systems that cohabitate and interact with animals in the wild. This mid-career survey exhibition presents works from 1998 to 2021, with a particular focus on new works created during his residency at the Beall Center’s Black Box Projects. Ingram's residency work grew out of collaboration and conversation with UC Irvine neuroscience professor, Steve Mahler, and in thinking about Mahler's love for rats. In the process, Ingram's focus narrowed around the synanthropic animals, the animals most closely tied to ourselves and our places.


Moderated by Beall Center Artistic Director David Familian.

Register Online here: https://campusgroups.uci.edu/Illuminations/rsvp_boot?id=1422510




Ian Ingram builds robotic objects that borrow facets from animal morphology and behavior, from the forms and movements of machines, and from our stories about animals. A thread of Ingram's work over the past two decades has been attempts to create messy webs in the Umwelts of specific non-humans and humans through behavioral objects that–through scale, form, signal, agency, and gesture–become meaningful to non-human animals, usually, however, inserted into playful narratives built from human conceits. In a nutshell, Ingram is trying to talk to animals through new sorts of bodies that they can relate to. The resulting works–often intended to cohabitate and interact with the animals in their own places and their own ways–explore the human-made body's future as a willful entity, our relationship with non-human animals, behavior and object performance as artistic media, the interface between the built and the grown, and our technology's role in the natural environment.

Ingram has exhibited internationally, including at the Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh, U.S.A); Nikolaj Kunsthal (Copenhagen, Denmark); the Museum of Modern Art (Toluca, Mexico); Yada Gallery (Nagoya, Japan); Bedford Gallery (Walnut Creek, U.S.A); Eyelevel Gallery (Halifax, Canada); Purdue University (West Lafayette, U.S.A); Zone2Source (Amsterdam, Netherlands); Hasbro (Pawtucket, U.S.A); Popular Science Magazine; the Beall Center for Art + Technology (Irvine, U.S.A); and the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, U.K.). Ingram has a BS and MS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Dr. Stephen Mahler is a behavioral neuroscientist and Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior at UC Irvine. His work is aimed at understanding how rat brains work, both because this may lend insights into the principals of mammalian brain organization in general, and because rats are themselves an interesting organism with one foot in the wild, and one in the human world.

Charissa N. Terranova is Professor of Art and Architectural History at the University of Texas, Dallas. She coedits with Meredith Tromble Biotechne: Interthinking Art, Science, and Design, a book series at Bloomsbury Press. Author and editor of many books, she has a sabbatical 2022-2023 to write Biology and the British Bauhaus: Morphogenic Modernism in Art, Science, and Design, which is about the history of second-order cybernetics.

Event Date: 
February 23, 2022 - 5:30pm to 6:30pm
Event Location: