Emir Johnston

My current work looks at the behaviour of machines, particularly the behaviour machines manifest with one another. I am interested in the way we perceive how these machines act and the meaning that we attribute to them, both consciously and unconsciously. My intention is for my work to stimulate discussions surrounding emergent behaviour and the nature of consciousness in artificial systems. 

My practice spans across sculpture, drawing, and installations, with a current focus being on a collection of robots that interact with each other. These machines work together to create drawings, often ‘collaborating’ but at times seeming to engage in fights. Viewer participation is key to my work, and viewers are often encouraged to participate by making sound, affecting how the machines act and making the participant an active element of the system. Much of the time I don’t know how a machine will act, instead simply creating the conditions for behaviour to emerge. Because of this, my machines are loosely thrown together using found objects and scrap wood along with motors and electronics. Through this approach, I invite unpredictability into my work, allowing each piece to evolve and surprise both the audience and myself.