The Kinetic Albatross
Conceived & created by Andy Stokes and Frederic Bussiere, The Kinetic Albatross is an interactive, kinetic art installation, mimicking a flying albatross with the aim to raise awareness about marine plastic pollution. It was designed and produced by The Collective, a multidisciplinary creative agency based in Hong Kong, which is strongly involved in environmental issues.
Albatross are one of the well-known species who are direct victims of marine plastic pollution. One alarming study found that 98% of chicks contained pieces of plastic in their stomach, which as a result caused 40% of those to die from starvation.
Our 6m wide living sculpture mimics the shape of an endangered albatross flying elegantly in the sky and serves as a symbol of many other species currently under huge threat from plastic pollution. The bird is beautiful, yet full of wounds caused by pollution.
The installation is fully interactive, allowing audience to give life to the piece by mimicking the flying gestures of the bird. The process of giving audience the control of this endangered albatross aims to raise the awareness and responsibility of the user.
The sculpture is controlled by kinetic winches. Using a custom created workflow the motion capture setup is the bridge between the kinetic albatross and the human user. It captures the user’s motion and in real-time directly controls the Albatross. As soon as a user steps in front of the booth, the interactivity starts (all automated thanks to some creative coding and machine learning!). In idle mode the Albatross will gracefully fly alone.
The fight for a cleaner environment, a global awareness and an active response from the society is at its beginning. Few efforts have been done, in comparison of the problem itself. The latest super typhoon which shook Hong Kong last September resulted in our beaches being covered by debris made of plastic and was a sad reminder of the global pollution.
Being an emblem of the ocean but also one of the direct victims of the ocean pollution, the albatross became our figure for this art project. The plastic albatrosses ingest cannot be digested, it takes up space in the stomach and starves them, leading to their death. This plastic is also regurgitated and fed to chicks, reducing their food intake and ultimately their chances of survival.
Our curiosity in Nature and our concern for the environment are the backbones of our artistic work and we dare believing that our work will bring a positive impact on the society.
To give the audience further information we created takeaway information cards with added Augmented Reality video content. Created using our in-house developed “InstaAR” platform, the user simply scans the QR code to instantly view the content. Our platform requires no App to be downloaded, resulting in many more engagements.
These cards were very popular with children & schools as they offered a more engaging way of getting the message across instantly.
The Kinetic Albatross had its premiere at The Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong 2019 where it had over 30,000 visitors over 4 days. It will continue its journey at festivals & events throughout the year.
Creative direction: Frederic Bussiere
Technical director: Andy Stokes
Project Director: Anita Lam
Interactive Designer : Michael Sedbon
Fabrication Designer : Homan Ho @ HK Maker
Project Manager : Adrian Lee
Thanks to the Affordable Art Fair (HK) Team
SPECIAL MENTION : Chris Jordan, who captured the imagery of the Albatross that was one of the catalyst to us creating this piece. Watch “Albatross” the film here on vimeo
More info : “Albatross” in The Guardian