An inspiring local project gathering momentum around the world works with some of the country’s most talented wire crafters to upscale their sculptures into functional “robots” that are able to do all sorts of cool things.
The African Robots project began in Cape Town in 2013, with a plan to combine networks for informal street cellphone repair with informal street artists and make use of phone parts for elements of the electronics.
The first project began as a wire starling that moves its wings and chirps, using recycled parts and wire craft. A whole host of animals and machines have followed since.
The project, explains African Robots founder Ralph Borland, intervenes in street wire art production in Southern Africa to “democratise access to technological know-how”.
“Informal-sector artists make largely ornamental goods from galvanised steel fencing wire and other cheap materials, which they sell in the street. African Robots brings DIY electronics know-how and cheap components to produce interactive and kinetic forms of work: African automatons such as birds, animals and insects.”
he functional kinetic sculptures have since been exhibited around the world, from the Vitra Design Museum in Germany in 2015 and the Toronto International Film Festival, to the Machines Room in London, and the AKAA convention in Paris.
African Robots is now in discussions with a South African educational technology firm to develop a similar kit for teaching electronics in schools, an initiative we couldn’t shout “Halala” louder for.