The Wandering Artist has arrived at ESTEC! On 6 June, Sarah Petkus, a kinetic artist and roboticist, began a three-week residency at the European Space Agency’s technical centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands to explore aspects of robotic exploration in space. Sarah is accompanied by the Wandering Artist, a 60-cm tall, four-footed robot, also known as Noodle. Later this summer Sarah and Noodle will head to the Ars Electronica Futurelab to develop Sarah’s concept to be shown at the Ars Electronica Festival, September 7-11, 2017 in Linz, Austria.

Sarah Petkus with Noodle, at ESTEC in June 2017. Credit: Sarah Petkus.

Sarah was awarded the residency in recognition of her submission to the ESA – Ars Electronica Artist-in-Residence programme last year, for which she received an honorary mention by the jury.

In her proposal, Sarah pondered the possibilities of a probe that would explore another planet in the Solar System and take decisions based on creative and artistic grounds, rather than purely scientific reasoning. In this interview with Ars Electronica, Sarah expands on this proposal and outlines her hopes for the residency.

While at ESTEC, Sarah will meet experts from ESA’s space science missions, as well as
roboticists and engineers from the Human-Robot interaction lab, the Planetary Robotics
lab, and the Orbital Robotics lab to learn about the challenges of exploring space and to share her insights into machine creativity in the context of space exploration.

Sarah Petkus with Noodle, the Wandering Artist. Credit: Sarah Petkus.

Follow Sarah’s experiences during this residency via her twitter (@spetku) and YouTube channels, and on the art&science@ESA and Ars Electronica blogs.

“The Wandering Artist” will be exhibited at the Ars Electronica Festival, September 7-11,
2017, Linz, Austria.