Over a period of a few weeks I trained my Siamese fighting fish (betta splendens) José to jump out the water and get food off my finger. He also learnt to follow my hand as I moved it around the outside of his tank. The Abovemarine is a vehicle that enables José, or any other fish to roam on the land freely. This small freedom allows him to Interact with other species including humans and small animals. José is able to successfully navigate around a room, as he swims backwards (stopping the Abovemarine) before hitting obstacles.
The Abovemarine is not fish freedom. It is not a product and it is not for fish to live in (and they don’t). José and the Abovemarine engage our interest in the beauty and intelligence of these creatures. We are encouraged to ask questions that challenge our preconceived notions about fish and other living creatures. « Does the fish have intention? », « Does the fish understand what he is doing? », « Do fish have memories? ».
The Abovemarine moves using Omni Wheels, allowing it to travel in any direction without first having to turn. Without this mechanism, the tank would get stuck in a feedback loop, spinning in a circle every time José, who moves relative to the tank, swam left or right. José’s movement is tracked using a camera and computer vision.