One of the most popular events at the Merge Arts, Music and Performance Festival, currently being held on London’s Bankside, is being performed by a troupe of 8 perfectly synchronised dancing robots activated by the public via a control panel. This dancing machines installation has been created by Peter William Holden, a British installation artist based in Leipzig, Germany, with help from Thorite in the form of a loaned compressor which brings the pneumatically-activated tap dancers to life.
One of the Festival’s organisers approached Thorite for assistance as the installation is located in out of use commercial premises on Bankside, a thriving Thames-side cultural district in central London with the famous Borough Market and Tate Modern at its heart. The venue possessed all the space necessary for the robotic dancers to perform in, but lacked a sufficient power supply. Stephen Wright, Thorite’s managing director, was pleased to assist and arranged for a 3 HP single phase Hydrovane compressor to be delivered to the venue and connected to the robots.
Stephen attended the launch event on September 17th and was impressed by the dancing robots which display a symphony of complex dance rhythms and taps. Speaking at the event Stephen said: “Peter’s machines are really fascinating, combining high level engineering skills with top quality fabrication to produce a spectacle which is completely beguiling. I’m delighted that Thorite has been able to provide the motive power for the robots to perform their complex dances with such impressive precision.”
Adventurous spectators can re-invent the existing robotic performance and create their own composition using sixteen switches to trigger short sequences of sound and movement. A second routine is inspired by the Industrial Revolution where the motions of the robots emphasise relentless work, ignorant of their environment and unwilling to stop if anything gets in their way.
As an installation artist Peter William Holden has been influenced by both the electronics subculture and street culture. He utilises his knowledge of applied mathematics, engineering and pneumatics to make kinetic sculptures which have been presented at numerous exhibitions and festivals around the world.
Merge is an annual festival running from September 18th to October 12th and is curated by Illuminate Productions which takes contemporary art out of gallery-type situations and into the public domain where everyone can enjoy it. Merge aims to encourage and promote a wide range of performances, events and happenings designed to draw on the rich heritage and contemporary culture of Bankside.