Robotics in media art is the area in which media art and its discourse overlap with the science and engineering of robotics. This form of robotics is a nexus for multidisciplinary collaboration between arts, social sciences and engineering. Art robots, or creative robotics, are a way in which artists utilise the technology of robotics to apply to an art basis. The robots either create or become the artwork. As with contemporary art discourse, the usage of current technology of the socio-economic time defines a work as contemporary. This is clearly demonstrated consistently within robotics, which firmly places it as a contemporary media art form.

This now poses the question, what is the purpose of artists working with robotics? To simplify this, robotics is a form of medium as well as being a genre of media arts. As with media art, which is created with the available media of the contemporary time, robots are another part of this media technology in which artists use. Therefore, robotics is applied in the same way as any other medium. Robotics in media art serve the ‘art’ purpose, which channel the concepts of the artists and pose questions to the audience about the world, community or society. Robots in their science and engineering purpose are created to assist human beings. Within in art context, these robots engage to the emotional, aesthetic and social qualities of humans, and allow for an interaction beyond the scientific notion of ‘assistance’ of humans.

‘Diamandini’ (2011-2013) is a robotics piece, which aesthetically reminisces classic marble sculpture. This robot is covered in an all-ceramic body, which hides any discernable features that would consider it a robot.[1] The robot itself stands at 155cm tall and has the appearance of a young woman. Made by Mari Velonaki, ‘Diamandini’, moves through and learns the gallery space. The script within ‘Diamandini’ allows her to interact either positively or negatively to various audience members;[2] following some around or moving away from others. Velonaki’s work interprets the relationship between humans and robots in an incredibly intimate way.[3] One of which would be seen for interactions between human and human. Her work opens dialogue for the possibilities in which robots may be utilized socially and presented in an inviting and visually appeasing manner.

Plate 1: Velonaki, Mari. 2016. Mari Velonaki, Diamandini, 2011-2013, robot, ceramic body. Image. Accessed October 25.

Kibong Rhee’s ‘Perpetual Snow’ (2015) is a kinetic sculpture, which also does not conform to a preconceived notion of the appearance of a robot. The robot itself is behind a large panel of glass, and is configured to draw circles on the glass. The silicone exterior of the robot is modeled off the artist’s own arm, and is holing a white marker.[4] This artwork is another robotics work, which evokes an emotional response from the artwork. It is self-sustaining in the sense that the robot creates the artwork and is the artwork. This human act of writing is translated through the robotic medium[5] and there is a conversation created in the way in which the robot can be applied socially. In Rhee’s case, the social interaction is not through physical interaction as such with ‘Diamandini’, but through the robot itself producing art.

kibong-rhee_perpetual-snow_1-jpg-0x700_q85Plate 2: Rhee, Kibong, 2016. Kibong Rhee, Perpetual Snow, 2015, glass, silicone, aluminium, steel, marker pen, arduino system. Courtesy the artist and Kukje Gallery, Seoul. Image. Accessed 25 October 2016.

‘Robot Opera’ (2015) is as the name states, a collection of eight semi-autonomous robot performers.[6] This work creates an interaction between human audience, music and a way for robots to create and distribute music to a live audience.[7] This artwork is another interpretation of social interaction between robots and humans. Aesthetically, the work draws upon minimalist sculpture[8] but also remains true to its robotic origins, keeping a very machine appearance. This differentiates itself from both ‘Perpetual Snow’ and ‘Diamandini’, in which the core robotic aesthetics are hidden or obscured. ‘Robot Opera’ subverts the traditional idea of opera; replacing the performer with a machine which has a non-human appearance.[9] This work opens dialogue for another way in which humans and robots may interact, that is through the front of music and performance.


Plate 3: Marynowsky, Wade. 2015. Wade Marynowsky, 2015, robots: 8 inch steel frames, 2300 x 900 x 900 mm, electronics, motors, sensors, light, sound, code. Installation: wifi network, custom LX, custom surround sound. Original performance 35 mins. Image. Accessed 25 October 2016.



[1] Velonaki, Mari. 2016. “Diamandini | Mari Velonaki”. Mvstudio.Org. [Accessed 25 October 2016]

[2] (Velonaki 2016)

[3] (Velonaki 2016)

[4] “Kibong Rhee”. 2016. MCA Discover New Romance. [Accessed 25 October 2016]

[5] (“Kibong Rhee” 2016)

[6] Marynowsky, Wade. 2015. “Wade Marynowsky”. Marynowsky.Net. [Accessed 25 October 2016]

[7] (Marynowsky 2015)

[8] (Marynowsky 2015)

[9] (Marynowsky 2015)


Author: z5109941

Fine Arts (Honours)

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