Artist collective known as the Workers wins inaugural digital prize with plan to let loose remote-controlled robots in gallery at night
It is an enticing proposition: the chance to be all on your own in a gallery or museum in the middle of the night. Tate Britain may not allow that but it hopes for the next best thing.
The winners of a new digital arts prize were named on Thursday as three artists who want to put after-dark robots into the gallery. The robots would be controlled by users from the comfort of their homes, with people able to steer them where they want, and zoom in on what they want, when they want.
The new award is called the IK Prize, in memory of the philanthropist Irene Kreitman who volunteered at the gallery and helped fund it for more than 25 years. It will be awarded annually to original ideas using digital technology to help connect the Tate collection to a wider audience.
The inaugural winners are three artists collectively known as the Workers(Tommaso Lanza, Ross Cairns and David Di Duca). They receive £10,000 with a £60,000 production budget to turn the idea in to reality.
The Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, one of the prize judges, said he shared the mission of widening access to art using digital technology.
“The Workers’ proposal is truly exciting and original. Combining behind-the-scenes intrigue with a sense of exploration, the project will give people all over the world a unique experience of 500 years of British art.”
Practicalities will have to be worked out, such as how long people would have at the controls, or what sort of queuing system would be involved. But the the artists say they are not having to develop or invent any new technology for the project.
The Workers is a digital design studio set up by Lanza and Cairns in 2011 after leaving the Royal College of Art.
They were chosen from a shortlist of four and a longlist of 51 by a panel that included the artist Mark Leckey; the Guardian’s head of technology, Jemima Kiss; Kreitman’s nephew John Porter; Tom Uglow, creative director of Google Creative Lab in Sydney; and Marc Sands, director of audience and media at Tate.