Imagine if R2D2 didn’t project images of Princess Leia, but rather an assessment of local superfund sites. Objectively, it’s nothing like the very adorable R2D2, but the Environmental Risk Assessment Rover (ERAR) by EcoArtTech is proving to be a very useful and devoted robot friend. Solar powered and GPS-oriented, the ERAR analyzes data from its surroundings, including air quality, local traffic accidents, and current terrorist warning levels. The rover breaks its findings down into fourteen unique (and pretty funny) categories, everything from “Plastic Bags” to “Regis and Kelly”, and projects them onto nearby natural surfaces. Just like the Princess Leia projection, right? Okay, not really, nor with the cute little meeps and whistles, but this thought-provoking rover sends a more urgent and critical message.

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The ERAR robotic device was created by contemporary art duo Christine Nadir and Cary Peppermint, who work collaboratively as EcoArtTech. Their other recent enviro-tech and transmission art works, Wilderness Trouble and Frontier Mythology, collectively explore our relationship to and interfacing with our surroundings. Via a crafted synergy between technology and the environment, EcoArtTech challenges our perception and highlights the inseparability of nature and culture.

The Environmental Risk Assessment Rover is on display at the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, New York until June 1, 2008, as part of free103point9‘s fascinating and timely exhibition Off the Grid, a dialogue between thirteen contemporary artists and the dynamic between modern energy and consumption in the modern landscape. The ERAR, like all of works exhibited in ‘Off The Grid’, are meant to conceptually challenge conventional and commercial infrastructures.

+ EcoArtTech
+ Off the Grid at The Neuberger Museum, Purchase College