Tell us a little bit about iSheep.
iSheep is a flock of robotic sheep roaming the Playa in search of company, fun, and joy. They each have a distinct personality and voice, and are going to the Playa to party with the Black Rock City residents. Although they do like to gift bareback rides, like any other gift bearer on the Playa, they like to offer their gifts respectfully and with mutual consent. Approach them, gently pet them, and maybe they will be in the mood to give you a ride.
The inspiration for this work came in a flash when the artist heard about this year’s theme of “I, Robot.” Immediately after that, the theme of consent presented itself. iSheep, like most of the artist’s previous installations, is a participatory project. A team of more than 20 volunteers has made this project happen, and most of them had complete freedom in their artistic creativity. The fabrication technique took a few twists and turns before it was finalized. The electronics and software are the brainchild of one dedicated team member producing 13 sheep brains.
What do you hope to communicate through this work?
We have already seen the reactions of people when they interact with the piece. This project, though touching on sensitive subjects, is all about smiles and laughter when first encountered, interacted with, ridden, raced, bumped, and spun all over the Playa. We have designed this piece to be interacted with in the harsh conditions of the Playa, as well as the harsher conditions of hard play. People will play, but in the back of their minds, the thing that will hopefully stay is that the sheep were fun, but they also had a message: Show respect, ask for consent, and then play hard.