Adam Ben-Dror and Chris Berthelsen

Mapping the Indeterminate Infrastructures of the Nudnik System: Volume 01 – Parts of Maintenance Bot

Nudnik System was initiated by Adam Ben-Dror and Chris Berthelsen during an R&D residency at the Negative Emissions and Waste Studies Programme (Tāmaki Makaurau). The first iteration was Nudnik Lawnboy: The Multiplayer AR Landscaping Game.

The basic premise of Nudnik Lawnboy is to roam the neighbourhood with a ramshackle hedge trimming device cobbled together from materials in the general environment and “get jobs” by going door-to-door and convincing homeowners to have a quick trim. The game cannot be played alone. Multiple players in various countries control different parts of the device. They must communicate through flakey Zoom connections and physically strenuous movement.

Example: The trimmer operator in Auckland directs the blades of a trimmer lashed onto a bamboo pole according to the command of a man in Tokyo (who views the scene in First-Person Perspective AKA POV via a junk camera attached to the blades), while the on-off switch (made of a soccer glove, powerplug and some screws) is pressed by someone 20m down the road, connected by a series of extension cords. A lady in Paris (in the dead of night) tries to negotiate a job with the homeowner through a smartphone headset attached to a defunct Lime Scooter helmet and gets paid directly to her PayPal account. Power is provided by an old car battery we found on the side of the road.

Please see here for early prototyping event.

The next iteration was “MENDING “WELLINGTON” AND GOOGLE STREET VIEW BY WAY OF NUDNIK MAINTENANCE SYSTEM”, a ten hour iterative prototyping performance for Performance Art Week Aotearoa 2021.
Details are here:

We found that making and playing Nudnik Systems is a design methodology for exploring materials and infrastructures. The games combine household and commercial waste streams, “pest” plants ecosystems, neighbourhood problems, road works, local e-waste headed for overseas recycling centres, financial, teleconferencing, and micromobility technologies, electricity generation and storage, residential streets, people overseas with time on their hands, and houseproud residents, at least!

For ADA 2021 we present a meditation on the intricate gambiarra that is the Maintenance Bot at the heart of the Nudnik Maintenance System and contrast it with the earlier Nudnik Lawnboy System.

This contribution will be of interest and value to zero-wasters, design researchers, Nudniks, those in the gaming industry, AR fanatics, and the general public.

Artist Bios

Adam Ben-Dror

Adam is an artist and designer currently teaching design at Victoria University of Wellington. He co-runs the Somatic Incubator, which hosts a weekly somatic movement class and invites guest artists to run workshops and intensives and runs the Negative Emissions and Waste Studies Programme (NEWS) Pōneke which collaborates with art centres, schools and the general public using waste as a primary artistic material. He has exhibited at The Dowse Art Museum, MEANWHILE, The Performance Arcade, Performance Art Week Aotearoa and internationally at the Barbican Center (London), Tekniska Museet (Stockholm), Science Gallery (London), Design Week (Istanbul). He has designed interactive public sculptures for Auckland City Council while working at interdisciplinary design studio Alt Group and hiscollaborative works have received multiple awards from the Designers Institute of New Zealand including the prestigious purple pin award.

Adam has a Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Arts from the University of Auckland and a Bachelor of Design Innovation from Victoria University of Wellington. He also studied robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA.

Chris Berthelsen

Chris Berthelsen’s work explores environments for creative activity, resident-led modification of the lived environment, and alternative education. He often runs multi-layered public projects throughout New Zealand and Japan which experiment with public/private space, Making Friends, trust and hope, and making-do with resources at hand.

He is a co-founder of Activities and Research in Environments for Creativity Trust (Tāmaki Makaurau) and Tanushimaru Institute for Art Research (Fukuoka, Japan), and was Deputy-Chairperson of the Mairangi Arts Centre Trust (Tāmaki Makaurau) (2017-2021).

Watch a short interview with Chris about “Making Friends with Junk” (produced as part of the Auckland Arts Festival 2021) here.

Activities and Research in Environments for Creativity Trust

Activities and Research in Environments for Creativity (AREC) is a registered charity which supports activities and research in the field of environments for creativity, including but not limited to education and self-learning, the creation of art and creative outputs, basic and practical research, publishing, community initiatives, and poverty relief through education in creative living.

A core focus is the use of waste and free materials, as illustrated by the recent book Distributed Resource Centre (supported by Hibiscus and Bays Local Board and Mairangi Arts Centre) (download), the Negative Emissions and Waste Studies (NEWS) Programme, and the school-based Negative Waste Creativity Programme (supported by the Ministry of Education).