Artificial intelligence | SCOUT by Tim Gruchy.


Tim Gruchy’s SCOUT or ‘Sentient Co-relator of Urban Transaction’ is a fickle creature. Touch it, talk to it, dance in front of it, expose it to light, darkness and changes in temperature and the response it will incite will vary each time.

This incredible large-scale multimedia sculptural installation standing tall in Britomart’s Takutai Square makes use of sophisticated mathematical programming allowing it to interpret stimuli and determine associated responses. Each exchange or interaction such as a touch or a change in weather is based on a complex set of algorithms, turning what SCOUT sees, feels and hears into a different audio and visual experience for the visitor.

Conceived by the Welsh-born New Zealand multi-media artist and visual musician, Tim Gruchy, the concept of SCOUT is something akin to the monolithic devices in Kubrik’s ‘‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, where machines seek out intelligent life.

“The pursuit of artificial intelligence has long been a driver in the evolution of computing,” says Gruchy.

“I like the idea of SCOUT as a benevolent, non-human intelligent entity that engages with its environment and the people within it, transacting in the urban space.”

The 8m tall monolithic structure consists of an engineered steel frame covered on three sides by coated fibreboard. The fourth side comprises a video wall that generates abstract visuals in response to data gathered from its environment. In a New Zealand art and cultural context Gruchy’s SCOUT is a first.

The next time you find yourself in Auckland’s Britomart be sure to stop by and say hello, or simply reach out and touch Auckland’s first digital sentry.


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