President’s Medals Student Awards Winners were announced 3 days ago.
Bartlett Student and part of the FactoryFifteen crew, Kibwe Tavares received the Silver Medal for his project Robots of Brixton, a short animation film which recreates the 1981 string of clashes between local police and black residents of the working class neighbourhood of Brixton, South London.
Marking the 3oth anniversary of the original riots, Tavares comments on the recurrence of historical events as well as the constantly rising discomfort of the working class in socially diverse communities.
“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce” notes Tavares quoting Karl Marx.
What is different in this film is that while in most sci-fi robot films the machines are the one that revolt and humans have either become slaves or are on the edge of extinction, in this case the filmmaker has a different and quite sensitive view over the matter. Robots have been pushed to the sidelines living as second-class citizens and dealing with all that tasks humans deny.
Robots of Brixton is an architectural film project that explores the relationship between architecture, class and race. Using Brixton, (or an augmented Brixton) as backdrop, the project uses robots as metaphors for a future intake of migrants to the UK. It acts as a commentary on the cyclical nature of the working class in areas with diverse populations such as Brixton
The projects shows Brixton as a degenerated and disregarded area inhabited by London’s new robot workforce. The robots are built and designed to carry out all of the tasks which humans are no longer inclined to do. The mechanical population of Brixton has rocketed, resulting in unplanned, cheap and quick additions to the skyline.
The film follows the trials and tribulations of young robots surviving at the sharp end of inner city life, living the predictable existence of a populous hemmed in by poverty, disillusionment and mass unemployment. When the Police invade the one space which the robots can call their own, the fierce and strained relationship between the two sides explodes into an outbreak of violence echoing that of 1981.
Architecturally Robots of Brixton has three main design strands.
1. Urbanism and Masterplanning. Do design the film I first had to readapt an interoperate the architecture of Brixton. Social housing, Markets, Public buildings and spaces were all researched and redesigned at urban scale.
2. Film Design. The film in itself was a complex design project, all the environments, set design, transitions between films scenes all had to fit together harmoniously.
3. Robot Design, using 2D and 3D techniques each robot was designed in detail.
Robots of Brixton is a projects that bridges Architecture, and politics using the medium of film as an open and accessible way in. The England riots of 2011 amplify the subject matter as both potent and relevant.
source: presidents medals