Departmental research fuses with arts for Festival of the Mind 2018

The Department today announces is involvement in the city wide 'Festival of the Mind', running Thursday 20th – Sunday 30th September 2018.

ACSE student Gianmarco Pisanelli is working alongside ACSE’s Dr Jonathan Aitken and local Audio-visual artist Mark Fell to develop an interactive robotics art installation for the Festival of the Mind 2018.

FOTM Header ImageFestival of the Mind is a unique collaboration between academics from the University of Sheffield and experts from Sheffield’s cultural and creative industries. Welcoming the public and students from all over the world to celebrate not only our University but our City, between the 20th and 30th of September 2018.

At Sheffield, we pride ourselves on delivering pioneering, interdisciplinary research that makes a real difference locally, nationally and globally. At its heart, engineering is a very creative discipline, something we share with those in the Arts.

We aim to inspire people with the power of engineering through these interactive exhibits and make engineering research more accessible to the general public at this family friendly, city-wide event.

Vice-President and Head of Engineering, Professor Mike Hounslow

The exhibit, entitled “Generative Approaches to Robotic Movement and Vocal Synthesis” will feature a collaborative robot whose movements will be mapped to synthesised audio. The aim of the piece is to engage a broad audience in an open, absorbing and thought provoking manner, and to explore and confront attitudes towards robotics, automation and technology.

Gianmarco explains how he got involved in the project:

"The project was advertised through the Universities Career Connect pages, I applied and was lucky enough to be given the position. Art has always been my passion and this was the main reason why I decided to apply. Working with an artist has given me the chance to see the world from a different perspective. Engineers are taught to view the world in a pragmatic way. When engineers look at the KUKA robot they see a bunch of servomotors that can be used to reduce human labour. Whereas Mark looked at the robot and saw a way to unify music, art and technology. I was fascinated by how easy it was for Mark to transform something boring and ordinary into a beautiful and extraordinary piece of art."

He concludes:

"Studying at ACSE has definitely helped when it comes to this project. Firstly, I have learned the basics of robotics and control which were indispensable when it came to the creation of the mathematical model that I used to control the robot. My time at ACSE also taught me robust problem solving techniques that I use day to day to face new challenges I have never handled before."

Find our more about The Festival of the Mind.