Power of the Mud is an experiment designed to both explore the potential of home-made microbial fuel cells for powering small domestic or artistic devices and genuinely trigger curiosity from various audiences. The batteries use sedimental mud from the Severn Channel and electrodes made of graphite powder and stainless steel scrubbers. A simple electronic circuit collects the electricity produced by the batteries and discharges it intermittently to the robots. The robots use the bursts of energy to get closer and communicate, building overtime a basic shared memory influenced by their interaction and the environment.
The primal nature of the bacteria, integral living matter in the seemingly inert mud, harks back to the magical life of the golem. The life-giving inscription traced by the rabbi on the golem's forehead is here replaced by a few lines of code written in micro-python, signs that provide simple cybernetic creatures with an evolutive behaviour. Artificial life is brought upon by the Power of the Mud.
All the work is open source and documented here. Any person who made a mud pie at some point in their life will feel comfortable with the technology and the methods.
Robotic artist Paul Granjon and bio-engineer Michka Melo are exploring cheap and easy to disseminate sustainable energy solutions. Paul's expertise lies in building robots out of e-waste and open source electronics for art and participatory events. Michka is a catalyst who mixes biomimicry expertise with dynamic international networking in the domain of alternative futures and sustainable living. Paul and Michka are interested in designing and sharing solutions for a sustainable future. Their collaboration is experimental, in a way sometimes described as citizen science.