[ISEA2019] Artist Statement: Ralph Borland — African Robots in the City of Light

Artist Statement

ISEA2019 Residency Programme. With the Asian Culture Institute and as ACT Showcase – ISEA2019 X Creators in Lab.

The purpose for this artist residency is to explore local craft and vernacular design cultures in Gwangju, along with the street-level electronics scene, and subcultural activities such as sound-system scenes, hacking and toy culture, combining these elements to create locally-relevant automatons. The artist will bring his design, interactivity, sculpting and fabrication skills to the project. The resulting work will reflect a combination of influences, those brought by the artist, combined with those of the locale, in the creation of hybrid, affective objects made from local material, which bridge cultures, ‘high’ and ‘low’ art and technology. theculturetrip.com/africa/south-africa/articles/meet-ralph-borland-the-artist-behind-playful-african-robots

  • Ralph Borland (South Africa) is an artist, designer, curator and interdisciplinary knowledge worker based in Cape Town, South Africa. His project African Robots is a collaboration with street wire artists in Southern Africa to introduce electronics and mechanics to their practice. He has a degree in Fine Art from the University of Cape Town, and a Masters in Interactive Telecommunications from New York University. His PhD from Trinity College Dublin is a critique of first world design interventions in the developing world. His post-doctoral work has focused on North-South knowledge inequalities. His art-design piece Suited for Subversion (2002), a protective and performance suit for street protest, is in the permanent collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art. Across his work, Ralph pursues an interdisciplinary approach to teasing out issues of power, activism, social engagement via designed objects, the aesthetics of make-do and ad hoc design, and the pleasures of pop culture, sound and music, multimedia and sculpture, and collaborative artistic practice.