In Fiddian’s performance Neurotic, giant pogo-ing robots attend 3 punk gigs. Neurotic questions how learning develops through the empathetic responses of the brain. The robots’ own neural networks are modelled on so-called ‘mirror neurons’ in the brain which stimulate mimicry. Each robot is exposed to punk records that Fiddian collected as a youth. The intention is that the robots develop their neural connectivity through ‘listening’.
To give the robots’ ‘musical taste’ Fiddian has worked with Jons Jones Morris (software), Professor Peter McOwan (computational biologist) and Dr. Barry Gibb (neurologist).
Performing to younger robotic versions of himself, Fiddian fronts the band Neurotic and the PVCs (Punk Voice Choir) which includes the project’s Musical Director and punk guitarist Andrew Tweedie (Menace), drummer Chris Bashford (Chelsea) and bass player Rob Bartram (Chester). Fiddian sings tracks written with the band especially for Neurotic to test the robot’s acquired taste. ach night, Neurotic and the PVCs and support bands aim to excited the joint mechanical and human audience to the point of synaptic dancing delight.
At the gigs, the robots’ instinct to pogo highlights the neurology of pleasure, learning, taste and ageing. Neurotic invites consideration of how taste is embodied in human neurons or Artificial Neural Networks. The scientific and cultural issues related to Neurotic were explored on a dynamic website and open forum before, during and after the performances.
Neurotic was generously funded by the Wellcome Trust.
Performances were at the ICA London July 3,4 & 5th 2008. Support bands: Fumadores, Gertrude, Red Eyes, Viva Las Vegas, Scrotum Clamp and Toxic Slut.