Natalia Balska

  • EXPOSITION: 23 - 29 May 2019
  • Opening hours: [ MON to FRI ] 5pm - 8pm -- [ SAT & SUN ] 1pm - 5pm

Eastern Bloc is pleased to host Natalia Balska, for a production residency in the lab (May 2 -22) to develop her project entitled "Uexküll Animal - Ray'Bot".

She will present her work at Eastern Bloc's gallery, Thursday May 23, 6pm - 8pm. Come to meet her and chat on robotics and biocybernetics!

Her piece will be displayed throughout the week of May 24 to 29.


With an approach between design, prototyping and art, “Uexküll Animal - Ray'Bot” sets to explore the idea of Umwelt, described by Jakob von Uexküll, which was the basis for many early biocybernetic models of perception. Concentrating on the parallels between the theories of Effect and Sense space, and Reinforcement Learning widely used in Machine Learning,  “Uexküll Animal - Ray'Bot” has begun as an open source *AIY project. Within this residency, Uexküll Animal's code will be used to re-construct a narrative of 'Ray Cat' as proposed by Françoise Bastide and Paolo Fabbri within the nuclear semiotics program. Treating the initial narrative as a springboard to examine possible futures alongside robotic companions.

Take a look at the Code developed as part of residency!


*AIY - an Do It Yourself (DIY) for AI. Uexkull Animal is an AIY code for Reinforcement Learning, allowing accessible implementation while explaining the basics of theory behind the code.

*Umwelt  - meaning: subjective universe, the world as it is experienced by a particular organism

*Jakob von Uexküll -  As a Baltic German biologist, his writings encompassed many fields including theories that were basis of establishing biosemiotics (the studies of the production and interpretation of signs and codes in the biological realm).

*Effect and Sense space theory - From Umwelt theory: The organism's have sensors that report the state of the Umwelt and effectors that can change parts of the Umwelt. Sensors and effectors are linked in a feedback loop.

*Reinforcement Learning -  A machine learning approach. The agent (ie. robot/algorithm) undertakes actions within defined environment. The results of those actions are evaluated but an external Task/Interpreter and agent is either rewarded/not rewarded for its action. Over time the agents optimises their actions to maximise rewards.

*Ray Cat - are hypothetical genetically-modified cats that change colour when exposed to radiation.The idea was proposed by Françoise Bastide and Paolo Fabbri as part of Nuclear Semiotics research, with the goal of protecting future generations from accessing and disturbing sites that store nuclear waste.  The change of colour signalling danger would be reinforced in collective memory with myths and fairy tales.


Born in Bielsko-Biala, Poland, Natalia Balska graduated in Graphic and Media Design from the University of the Arts in London. In 2014, she obtained an MA degree from the Faculty of Intermedia, Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow. Part of her degree work was B-612, an installation exploring the relations between plants and artificial intelligence, which was later displayed at the TEST EXPOSURE 2015 WRO Biennale, winning the Main Prize of the 1st Competition for Media Arts Graduation Projects.

  • EXPOSITION: 23 - 29 May 2019
  • Opening hours: [ MON to FRI ] 5pm - 8pm -- [ SAT & SUN ] 1pm - 5pm