Setting My Imagination on Fire, #squaredonline: “Robots Will Explore Tate Britain at Night so You Don’t Have To”

If you read Wired.co.uk, you may have come across the story of a small design studio commissioned by Tate Britain to design four robots that will roam around the gallery at night and stream what they see to anyone online. Phrase over.

Leaving aside the first thoughts and questions (“This changes dynamics with the gallery.”, “What does it mean to the security of the place?” (which I’m still mulling over), it’s a great idea: robots roaming around Tate Britain at night will allow me to explore parts of the gallery or maybe the entire place at leisure from the quietness of my house – while I’m snuggled on my couch, sipping tea and eating biscuits (or a healthier snack).

I can see at least several audiences/stakeholders who would benefit from this technology:

  1. People in / outside London who would like to visit the gallery but don’t have the time to during a regular day or at the weekend.
  2. People outside the UK who don’t have the opportunity to visit Tate (and, let’s face it, can’t all fly to London at the same time). In which case, it would be wise of Tate, not to mention good business, to maybe charge a small donation?
  3. Students and researchers studying art and culture, who would probably fall in love with the opportunity of exploring the gallery at leisure.

In the long term, this idea could also be beneficial to:

  1. Other galleries (and museums) equally known in the UK and worldwide; using similar robots, they will become accessible to people across the globe who may not otherwise have the opportunity to walk down their corridors.
  2. Multiple other types of organisations, cultural or non-cultural alike, that could perhaps employ the same type of technology to make themselves more available to their audiences.

This idea is a winner, me thinks! In the meantime, build away, boys. I look forward to seeing the robots in action! Or should I say, the gallery?

2 thoughts on “Setting My Imagination on Fire, #squaredonline: “Robots Will Explore Tate Britain at Night so You Don’t Have To”

  1. I must say I find this very gimmicky (note: I work for another London-based arts organisation, so maybe I am biased!! ;-). OK, it’s fun to think of robots exploring the Tate at night, and that you can control them remotely.

    But, let’s face it, how many people would be up for being broadcast art over the web, with little to do but choose between four different points of view (since only a few people will be able to control the robot, I imagine)? Most people will rather play a video game, watch a film, chat with friends…

    I do love the idea – a pretty neat PR stunt actually. It’s fun and lots of people will try it. It will be interesting to see how many people actually access it over the course of a year (ie beyond its launch which I am sure will attract attention), and how often!

    Also the Tate already has a good digital catalogue of its collection, a better way to see what treasures it holds (though obviously not within the space of the gallery itself).

  2. Hi there, thanks for your comment. I can see why you think the idea sounds more like a gimmick, but I’d be curious to see it in practice. It may actually prove to be something quite cool that could inspire other galleries and potentially other industries as well.

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