Robot Steps

Site Specific  

Weekender – The Barbican Centre, London
3rd & 4th November, 2012

Robot Steps was a small edition of the Steps Series commissioned by The Barbican for their Weekender event Natural Circuits themed on human’s relationship with technology. The piece tells a story of Jo, whose younger sibling Sam looks like a child but is in fact a robot, programmed to act as both friend and guardian whilst Jo’s parents are away.

After leaving Jo’s parents the ‘children’ leave, Jo skips around and initiates a game of tag, puts her ear to a metal pipe and imagines she hears the sea. Sam plays along but is less fun. They both play hopscotch, Jo has learnt to cartwheel, but Sam never will. Sam passes messages back and forth between Jo and her mum before Jo is trippedby a pair of bullies. The bullies try to mug Jo but she has no valuables, Sam has them all and when challenged sam gives the two attackers a terrible shock. Safe again the pair set off. Sam sets up a phone like with Jo’s mum before his batteries run flat. Resourceful Jo finds a powerpoint to recharge the batteries. The pair find a mirror and Sam takes their photo. Sam directs them around the corner for a reunion with Jo’s parents. On their shopping mission the parents have bought their daughter a surprise, a larger, shinny new robot that yes, can do cartwheels. Named Sam by Jo the new friends go off together and dad takes old Jo to stand by the recycling bins. ‘click’.


Devised by: Simon Ford, Craig Stephens and James Yarker
Design by: Simon Ford
Installed by: Simon Ford, Denise Stanton, Craig Stephens & James Yarker
Removed by: Gareth Brierly, Annie Calvery, Charlotte Martin, Bernadette Russell, Billy Wolf
Photos: Susan Sanroman
Commissioned by: Jenny Mollica at The Barbican
With thanks to: Emma Passmore for the introduction and Kai for cartwheel advice.