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Arts and science combine for festival spectacle
8 June 2012
But that is what will happen when researchers from Plymouth University head for The Times Cheltenham Science Festival, which runs from June 12-17.
Thousands of visitors will see the worlds of arts and science combine at two stands showcasing the innovative and world class research being pursued in both fields in Plymouth.
Marine research will also be prominent with the screening of a documentary about plankton, directed by University researcher Richard Kirby and narrated by Sir David Attenborough.
Professor Dafydd Moore, Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Plymouth University, said: “Our presence at the Cheltenham Science Festival shows the University can create successful partnerships out of what might seem to be very different disciplines across the arts and science. In this our 150th anniversary year, our world class research is constantly pushing new boundaries and enabling our staff and students to further their academic aspirations. Events like the Festival give the public and industry a small glimpse of the exciting things happening here in Plymouth and, I hope, encourage them to find out more about what we have to offer.”
The University has two connected stands at the festival, one showcasing the exciting KeJi project and another with and Area 42.
KeJi is an artificial intelligence that gets under the skin of humans by synchronising with their heartbeat and then communicates directly with them via SMS and tweets. Visitors will also be able to participate in the KeJi Bounce game, which allows players to create their own unique KeJi spawn character. KeJi is a unique collaboration between artist and designer Nathan Gale, Cheltenham Science Festival and the Institute of Digital Art and Technology (i-DAT) at Plymouth University, with support from Pyramid AV.
In Area 42, people will be able to interact with Plymouth University’s highly advanced humanoid robots, which are used for teaching and research purposes and also participate in international competitions. This year, they will be the first UK team to compete in RoboCup in Mexico City and then go on to the international RoboWorldCup to be held in August.
Also in Area 42 will be Plasticity and The Fragmented Orchestra, an ambitious musical project led by researchers from the University’s School of Arts and Media. Visitors speak into a microphone and the system uses artificial neurons to generate grains of sound, which adapt and change as different sounds and tones are added. It has already featured at the BFI onedotzero Adventures in Motion Festival in 2011 and was installed at the launch of the new Google building in London in March 2012.
Completing the University offering is Kirby’s film Ocean Drifters: A Secret World Beneath the Waves, narrated by Sir David Attenborough and with music by Richard Grassby-Lewis. It reveals a secret world that underpins the marine foodweb, created our oil and gas, and shaped the landscape around us and examines how without plankton there would be no fish in the sea, and our life on Earth would be quite different. The film is being shown at Cineworld in Cheltenham on June 17 and Kirby will be leading a discussion on plankton afterwards.
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