African Robots is a project to create interactive electronic street art. ‘Street art’ in this instance means art sold by people on the street, in South Africa and Zimbabwe – usually forms of handicraft using inexpensive materials like fencing and electrical wire, beads and waste wood, plastic and metal. The project focuses particularly on wire work, where artists make three dimensional forms from wire – it’s a very economical use of material to define a form.
The project functions at many levels: as an art project, leading to new works; as a social development project, sharing skills with street artists; as a ‘critical design’ study that imagines alternative futures through fictional artifacts; and as an exercise in friendship and skill-sharing to catalyse innovation. It intends to empower street artists through expanding their knowledge and skills.
The project plays on the ‘viral’ way in which new designs are proliferated amongst street wire artists; and as a large number of street wire artists in South Africa are from Zimbabwe, it engages with existing cross-border movements of art and culture, and inquires into the experience of migrant artists in South Africa. It both imagines and attempts to bring into being new cultural and technological connections.
You can contact the project here.
African Robots is a project by Ralph Borland