Aaro Murphy's Vexer - commissioned work


Amsterdam-based artist Aaro Murphy presents his latest work Vexer, an autonomously performing computer simulation and sound sculpture which composes itself in real life. This new work is on show at gallery Bologna.cc in Amsterdam from 3.10 until 11.10, and on www.vexer.space until forever.

An excerpt of Vexer robot in motion. Variety of angular forms in color purple and bright blue
Excerpt from Vexer

“How could a virtual ecosystem evolve and cultivate its own acoustic surroundings independently?
Starting from this question, Murphy examines the potential of automated systems developing a performative agency over time. The result is an autonomously performing computer simulation and sound sculpture that composes itself in real-time.

A 3D animated AI has been programmed to roam a virtual terrain, reacting to its environment listening and collecting sounds as it moves. As time passes, the AI drifts from one landscape to another, morphing its shape and transforming its acoustic periphery in the process. In turn, the work evolves into a self-generative polyphonic instrument.

As time passes, the AI adopts a hybrid machine-like form between a motor, architectural model and robotic being, continuously shifting its shape and scale. This uncanny discrepancy between machine and creature, is a part of an ongoing research in Aaro’s practice – searching for boundaries between the synthetic and organic.

The work has been created in collaboration with Marcel Smit, Duncan Robertson, and Ville Nieminen.
Vexer is a commissioned artwork by The Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux.

Vexer robot on screen at the Bologna.cc gallery space.
Vexer on display at Bologna.cc
Vexer robot on screen at the Bologna.cc gallery space. A closeup image.
Vexer on display at Bologna.cc

For this project Aaro collaborated with:
-       Coder Marcel Smit – Smit engineered an AI that would react continuously to its environment. As time passes, the AI responds to live GPS and weather data, shifting its speed and movement throughout. The AI behaviour is determined by real time atmospheric conditions, based on the viewers location, which are translated into the virtual environment it inhabits. In effect, the work looks and behaves differently during the day and at night, or depending on which part of the world it is viewed from.
-       Sound artist Duncan Robertson - Together they have composed a 3D soundscape which the AI responds to. Computer generated samples merge together with sounds of cities, machines and transitory spaces, generating an uncontrolled musical composition that oscillates between the mechanic and organic.

The work is accessible 24/7 live via vexer.space. Viewers can come back to the work and see how the AI and its environment has changed throughout the day and at night. The work is advised to listen to with headphones or with speakers and can be left to play continuously.

Creative coding: Marcel Smit
Sound design: Duncan Robertson
Web Design: Ville Niemi

Thanks to: Ivan Cheng, Kristoffer Zeiner

About Aaro: 
Aaro Murphy (1991, FIN) is a visual artist living and working in Amsterdam. Working across a range of media such as sound, video, 3D animation and scent Aaro creates time based sculptures and kinetic installations that question boundaries between the animate and inanimate, the organic and synthetic. A recurring theme in Aaro’s practice is the possibility for machines and virtual mechanisms to adopt a spatial agency and performative potential.

Aaro graduated from the Studio for Immediate Spaces at the Sandberg Institute in 2017 and has been working in Amsterdam since. His work often takes a spatial focus, examining how varying media can warp and fictionalise architecture – developing an affective presence within space. Orientation and temporality are also central to his research, examining ways in which perception of ‘place’ can be warped and twisted.