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Control This Art Museum’s Robots From The Comfort Of Your Couch

In “After Dark,” Internet users around the world control a team of robots that livestream the Tate’s collections into the wee hours.

From August 13 to August 17, a team of robots will roam the hallowed halls of the Tate Britain at night, visiting the sleeping paintings and sculptures. And you will have a chance to remotely control the routes of these robots from your computer as they livestream footage of the museum’s 500 years of British art.

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Called After Dark, the project was created by design studio The Workers, and has won the new IK Prize for creativity in digital arts–in the form of $16806 plus a $100,870 development budget. The idea came to Dave di Duca, one of the three members of The Workers team, after he’d been working on a separate project at the Tate. He found being alone in the galleries after hours a powerful, magical experience, and wanted to extend this unusual feeling of creeping around a museum at night to the masses.

When After Dark opens, people logging on from anywhere in the world will have a chance to steer the bots. Every few minutes, the robots randomly choose new operators from a queue of people who have requested to “Take Control” on Tate’s website. Built with help from RAL Space, which works with the UK Space Agency on space exploration technology, the robots have been equipped with sensors to prevent games of bumper cars and damage to priceless artworks. They’re mounted on circular wheeled bases with stalk-like spines holding up their LED headlights and cameras, and can move in any direction and look up or down. The robots might not choose you as their temporary master, but you can still watch a livestream of their journeys through the museum. (They were even test-driven by Chris Hadfield, former International Space Station commander.) Tate’s team is joining the Google camera in a new club of art-savvy robots–here’s to hoping they snap some good selfies in the museum’s reflective surfaces.

For a chance to steer a robot around the Tate at night, go here.

[H/T The Guardian]

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About the author

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering art and design. Follow her on Twitter.

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