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Laura Beloff & working group: R-Bus, 2023. You may not use this photo for commercial purposes. © Photo: HAM/Sonja Hyytiäinen.

R-Bus

Artist Laura Beloff & working group

Kalasatama, Helsinki

R-Bus by artist Laura Beloff & working group was a temporary event-based artwork, that brought a self-driving robot bus to the streets of Kalasatama during August 2023.

Beloff is interested in how our daily lives are controlled by countless hidden algorithms and smart technologies that we have no choice but to trust. The self-driving robot bus was an active agent that chose its route based on randomly generated algorithms. As an artwork it invited people to ponder about the experience we’re faced with when we let a robot take control and decide our route.

Inside the bus, passengers encountered a strange yet familiar soundscape. Real-time noises made by various organisms and ambient urban sounds were streamed into the bus from devices positioned around Kalasatama. The real-time sounds were analysed by AI software that identified absent frequencies and completed the soundscape by generating sounds of imaginary organisms to fill the empty frequencies.

Kalasatama is still under construction, and the relationship between the urban and natural environment is constantly shifting. Beloff’s work urged us to reflect on human impacts on the environment and its ecology: people produce loud noise to which organisms are forced to adapt, for instance by modifying the frequency of their own auditory communication.

Laura Beloff’s working group included Marko Tandefelt, Petri Ruikka, Calvin Guillot Suarez, Jani Hietanen, Sebastian Schlecht, Andrea Mancianti, John W. Fail and Esther Saraste.

Laura Beloff is an artist and researcher who explores connections between art, biosciences and technology. Her work often reflects on entanglements between humans, more-than-human agents and society. Beloff is a professor at Aalto University’s Department of Art and Media.

R-bus is part of A Stream Among Streams, an environmental art project hosted by Kalasatama and HAM Helsinki Art Museum and curated by Aleksandra Kiskonen and Kristiina Ljokkoi. The works commissioned as part of this project will slowly take shape in Kalasatama over the next decade, and they will form part of the City of Helsinki collection, curated and managed by HAM Helsinki Art Museum.

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