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ICA Live and Media Arts presents:

NEUROTIC

3-5 July, ICA Theatre (ICA, SW1)

ROBOTS LOVE PUNK!

For three hot and sweaty nights in July, punk music and robots collide at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) theatre in a series of exciting and evolving gigs called Neurotic.

Created by artist Fiddian Warman, Neurotic is three nights of live punk headlined by Fiddian's band Neurotic and the PVCs (Punk Voice Choir), supported by up and coming punk bands from across the UK, playing to an audience of humans and unique punk-loving robots.

In the auditorium three 2-metre tall robots, padded and dressed in leather, will be anchored to various parts of the ICA theatre floor, each with the ability to pogo up to an imposing height of 2.3 metres. Controlling these robots is a Neural Network modelled on the cells of the human brain which stimulate mimicry. So-called "mirror neurons" fire both when we perform certain actions and when we see or hear someone else doing them. Recent research suggests networks of mirror neurons in our brain may be responsible for feelings of empathy.

Neurotic questions how learning develops through these empathetic responses of the brain. The robots, pre-conditioned by Fiddian to the "classic punk" he loved in his youth, will develop their own neural connectivity through 'listening' and express their pleasure or displeasure to the new, live music through the pogoing action.

Performing to robotic versions of his younger self, Fiddian and his band Neurotic and the PVCs (Punk Voice Choir) includes punk guitarist Andrew Tweedie (Menace), drummer Chris Bashford (Chelsea) and bass player Rob Bartram (Chester) performing tracks written with the band especially for Neurotic.

Supported by the Wellcome Trust, Neurotic is a new and inclusive way of exploring the worlds of robotic science and neurology. The robots' instinct to pogo highlights the neurology of pleasure, learning, taste and ageing. Neurotic invites consideration of how taste is embodied in human neurons or Artificial Neural Networks.

In developing the robots and giving them their "musical taste" Fiddian worked with Andrew Tweedie (musical director) Jons Jones Morris (software), Professor Peter McOwan (computational biologist) of Queen Mary's University and Dr. Barry Gibb (neurologist).

Support bands are confirmed as Fumadores, Gertrude, Red Eyes, Viva Las Vegas, Scrotum Clamp and Toxic Slut with playing line-up to be confirmed closer to the dates. Each night, Neurotic and the PVCs and support bands aim to excite the joint mechanical and human audience to the point of synaptic dancing delight.

Scientific and cultural issues related to Neurotic will be explored on a dynamic website and open forum before, during and after theperformances at www.fiddian.com/neurotic.html and www.myspace.com/neuroticandthepvcs.

For further information please contact:
Yung Kha
ICA Press Office
020 7766 1406 / yung.kha@ica.org.uk

Michael Regnier
Wellcome Trust Media Office
020 7611 7262 / m.regnier@wellcome.ac.uk

  • The Wellcome Trust is the largest charity in the UK. It funds innovative biomedical research, in the UK and internationally, spending around 650 million pounds each year to support the brightest scientists with the best ideas. The Wellcome Trust supports public debate about biomedical research and its impact on health and wellbeing.
  • Fiddian Warman has long been interested in the creative application of computing in the physical domain. This activity is principally focused on the adoption of physical computing for sculpture, installation and performance. New sensor and actuator technologies are emerging that can be used in tandem with control technologies like Neural Networks to produce artworks that have significant and increased resonance for their audience. As technologies increasing become vectors for the communication of deeply 'human' activities, e.g. sex or war, it feels more and more relevant to use them as the medium for the conveyance of an artistic message.
  • Andrew Tweedie Neurotic's Director of Music, was born in Croydon in 1964 and took a degree in music from Royal Holloway College, University of London (studying composition with John Woolrich and violin lessons at the Guildhall School of Music. He was studying cultural history at Cambridge University when the 1997 reformation of the 1977 punk band Menace lured him away from academia to play guitar. He has gained a breadth and depth of musical language that he uses in installation art, film music and rock music. Asked about Neurotic he stated; "For me, the most interesting element of Neurotic is that the robots acquire taste unhindered by social context and prejudice. That's how we should approach listening."