Written by Elouise Paabo z5059584
Robotics is art that uses machinery to depict the weird and wonderful ways that technology has been embedded into the world of art. My first memory when thinking of Robotics is at the powerhouse museum as a child as whenever I went to the Powerhouse I would see the little robot in the glass box that could do a range of things, from picking something up to dancing to some cool music (which was always my favourite feature). I obviously didn’t understand the conceptual premise of it at the time, yet with a deeper understanding of the potential of robotic art it is fascinating to see how art in its many forms and facets is changing over time.
The first Robotics artist I will be discussing is Giles Walker, a British kinetic sculptor. Walker is known for his transformation of industrial waste within contemporary society into fully functioning robotic systems. One of his most famous works is the 2007 artwork called “Peepshow” featuring two pole-dancing robots with CCTV cameras for heads (Walker, 2007). The artwork holds a deep conceptual premise as in today’s society we are constantly being watched and watching other people with our use of technology and with the undertones of pole dancing ideas of voyeurism are depicted. The provocative artwork used windscreen wiper motors, a computer and a DMX program to bring the creations to life.
Another artist that creates Robotics is the American Ken Rinaldo. Rinaldo describes himself as “an artist and theorist who creates interactive multimedia installations that blur the boundaries between the organic and the inorganic”. In collaboration with students Matt Howard and Ross Baldwin from the Ohio State University in Columbus, Rinaldo presented the project named, “Autotelematic Spider Bots” in the U.K. Similarly to the interactive artwork installations I spoke about in my previous blog post, Rinaldo’s work of ten arachnid robots was capable of connecting with an audience through the use of sensors. The ten creations were self modifying as their behaviours were based on their interactions with the viewer (Rinaldo, 2006). The robots were also innovative as they were created to be able to find their own recharge stations. This idea is almost terrifying because it allows for the concept of robots to live autonomously without humans.
The robots incorporated elements of website Art and Electronic Media. The artwork was released in 2006 and further indicates the start of our technology was being developed in new and interactive ways through art.
The last Robotics artist I will discuss is Morgan Rauscher and his work “Zeugen” (2009). Zeugen is an interactive and immersive new media artwork that uses 32 human cast robotic faces and a face tracking system to explore the concepts of seeing and being seen. Because the 32 robot faces are plastic cast from real human faces, it feels like 32 real human people are watching the viewer. Personally, if I were to walk past 32 robotic faces that are watching me, I know I would be really creeped out. The concepts that the artist were trying to explore are the ideas of watching and being watched and what we consider a “visual” experience, “I see reflections in the penetrating acrylic eyes; a reflection of myself as a viewer. I find the sensation of ‘vision’ to be moving in both directions simultaneously between the viewer and the viewed”(Rauscher, 2009). Evidently, there is a recurring theme of voyeurism within the robotics world.
In conclusion, I find the robotics world an extremely fun one to interact with, yet it also scares me simultaneously as I wonder what the future holds in the robotics realm and its interaction with society. I think we need to be careful about the benefits and risks of having autonomous machines alongside humans and I think the art world is the perfect place to explore these possibilities.
Rauscher, M. (2009). [online] Available at: http://morganrauscher.com/morganrauscher/portfolio/zeugen-v1/ [Accessed 24 Oct. 2016].
Rinaldo, K. (2006). Autotelematic Spider Bots | Ken Rinaldo. [online] Kenrinaldo.com. Available at: http://www.kenrinaldo.com/portfolio/autotelematic-spider-bots/ [Accessed 25 Oct. 2016].
Walker, G. (2007). Giles Walker. [online] Blackratprojects.com. Available at: http://www.blackratprojects.com/artists/giles-walker [Accessed 25 Oct. 2016]