Ian Ingram’s Robotic Menagerie Inhabits the Beall Heart

The Beall Heart’s Ian Ingram exhibition explores what the eponymous artist refers to as “animal morphology, robot avatars, interspecies communique and generation in herbal environments.” The 21 items within the exhibition contain 14 robots — all appropriating animal paperwork and behaviour — that Ingram constructed and filmed over two decades within the prime, desolate landscapes of arctic fells, in town streets, parks and ponds, and in back-country lakes and mountains.

Ingram, who created a number of items on this display all over his fresh residency on the Beall Heart, has a Bachelor’s stage in Ocean Engineering and a Grasp’s in Ocean Acoustics from the Massachusetts Institute of Generation, plus an M.F.A. in Visible Artwork from Carnegie Mellon College. He has exhibited his paintings nationally and in Halifax, Copenhagen and Amsterdam, amongst a number of different international towns.

A lot of his paintings makes a speciality of “synanthropic animals,” or on the ones “maximum carefully tied to ourselves and our puts.” He explains that the robots serve as in a similar fashion to the animals they be in contact with when the topic in their focal point (whether or not raven, lizard or bug) seems at the scene. He provides that the robots have detailed flashbulb reminiscences of the days when the themes in their intent (the actual animals) are gave the impression to be within sight.

Ian Ingram at Beall Heart. Left / “Rat King” (2019-2021). Heart-right/ “Cinderella” (2019-2021) and “Superb Feathered Buddies” (2020-2021). Foreground/ “Snoozing Attractiveness” (2019) (Photograph through Yubo Dong / OF Studio)

Certainly, the animal universe that Ingram replicates routinely and in motion pictures is fraught with demanding situations and risk, in conjunction with delights together with liaisons with plants and mating. Past the clinical and creative sides of his robot experiments, Ingram is enticing in a deeper working out of the animal international. If all of this sounds fantastical and futuristic — and a bit of arduous to wrap your thoughts round — you’re no longer by myself. The L.A. Weekly requested the artist to introduce us to his ecosystem of avatars, creature through creature.

L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first start developing robots?

IAN INGRAM: I made my first actual robotic when I used to be 10. It accrued chalk from our schoolroom’s chalkboard tray, after which signaled luck when it reached the tip of the tray through doing one of those dance. In 1995, I began to construct a robotic that might inhabit and in some way belong within the tiny habitat shaped through islands off the New Hampshire coast. I’m nonetheless running towards completing that undertaking.

Please describe Lizardless Legs.

It’s one in all a sequence of robots that makes an attempt to go into the border disputes of Western fence lizards through looking at for the lizards’ territorial push-up alerts and responding with its personal push-ups. The rush-up gesture dominates (as it’s the robotic’s major serve as) and could also be a mating show. So that you could a point, Lizardless Legs is a lizard sexbot (or a robotic designed for intercourse).

And Nevermore-A-Matic?

This piece tries to inform our tales concerning the finish of the arena to ravens the usage of coded beak wipes. The birds most likely don’t truly perceive, however from the biosemiotics (indicators and codes) of over the top beak-wiping, they could acquire that the robotic is deeply apprehensive about one thing.

Ian Ingram at Beall Heart. Rat Re-Embodied as a Robotic (2019) (Photograph through Yubo Dong/OF Studio)

Love this identify — Threat, Squirrel Nutkin.

Prey animals alert each and every different to risk the usage of alarm alerts. Threat, Squirrel Nutkin — a robotic in search of squirrel predators like canines, foxes, cats, hawks and other folks — indicators the native squirrels the usage of their very own alarm alerts, which is tail flagging. The robotic has 3 tails, so its message may just quantity to a supernormal stimulus.

And Elongate Evans?

My residency on the Beall and collaboration with neuroscientist Steve Mahler there led me to a planned turning against synanthropic animals. Steve assists in keeping as pets a breed of rat referred to as Lengthy Evans. I hung out with them at evening at nighttime in his storage. I was serious about how synanthropic animals’ our bodies have compatibility into the constructed setting, and the way they to find facsimiles there of the puts the place they developed. And on account of the rat’s proclivity for chewing, I armored and enclosed my robotic’s vitals in ways in which I’ve hardly ever finished.

Now let us know about Marvelous Meat.

Marvelous Meat is a brief movie, comparable to a nature documentary of Nevermore-A-Matic in arctic Finland, the place it declares its message of doom right into a supposedly pristine panorama stuffed with crows, magpies, foxes, flies, and molting reindeer. It oversees a carcass made from pig, cow, sheep, and reindeer portions, purchased shrink-wrapped in plastic on the grocery store.

Ian Ingram at Beall Heart. On Past Duckling (2004) (Photograph through Yubo Dong/OF Studio)

Please describe the On Past collection — On Past Duckling, On Past Pond, and On Past Mom Goose on the Lake.

Within the early 2000s, I used to be seeking to create synthetic symbiosis. Once I failed at that (symbioses are truly million-year tasks), I attempted to create what I referred to as sculptural symbiosis. This ended in a sequence of robots enticing in their very own mating rituals in wild puts whilst cohabiting with the animals and vegetation there. On Past Duckling by no means had a mate, making its overtures plaintive and forlorn. To make up for that, I made On Past Mom Goose who did have a mate, On Past Father Gander. They achieved their synchronized mating ritual of bows and spins aligned with the Earth’s magnetic fields whilst miles aside as a result of that they had a related sense of time’s passage.

Remaining however no longer least, let us know about your rat-related installations.

There are fairly a couple of rat tasks. Two are new our bodies for rats: Rat King, the entanglement of those new rat our bodies; and A Whiskerer, a rat re-embodied in a kind that permits it to have mild liaisons with plants. They’re constructed from surveillance cameras. With the piece, Losing, the robotic’s surveillance digicam is going bodily the entire manner right down to the ground from the gallery ceiling as a result of its focal point is on that aircraft and at the scurrying and actions going on there. Rats With Wings connects rats with their feathered opposite numbers, the pigeons and gulls. Snoozing Attractiveness provides surveillance cameras a possibility to relaxation from their vigilant watch, dreaming all over the day in REM sleep concerning the rats it noticed all over the evening.

Ian Ingram at Beall Heart. Rat Re-Embodied as a Robotic (2019) (Photograph: Yubo Dong/OF Studio)

In running with Mahler and speaking together with his colleagues about efforts to know how the mind encodes reminiscences all over flashbulb reminiscence, I was serious about enticing with my robots’ reminiscences. With a prey animal like a rat, existence is a dangerous trade with an related want for vigilance and crystallizing classes from annoying and near-traumatic occasions. The surveillance cameras I exploit, past the similarities in colour and shape they have got with rats, exist in a global of vigilance with the presumption that one thing dangerous is all the time about to occur.


The exhibition is on view via March 5 at UC Irvine’s Beall Heart for Artwork + Generation, 712 Arts Plaza, Irvine; beallcenter.uci.edu.  

Ian Ingram at Beall Heart. Nevermore-A-Matic (2016) (Photograph through Yubo Dong/OF Studio)

Updated: January 6, 2022 — 4:25 pm