Signs of Life: Robot Incubator – an Afternoon with the Robots

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  • Workshop Statement

    Join us for an afternoon with the robots in the Signs of Life: Robot Incubator exhibition. This special event takes you behind the scenes with the robots, artists and curator and will include artist talks, robot demonstrations and special activities. Get acquainted  with Mari Velonaki’s humanoid robot Diamandini and contribute to the next stage of her development. Psycholanalyse John Tonkin’s nervous robots and the other robots in the exhibition. Watch a special performance of Kirsty Boyle’s robot tree ceremony and interact with her hand crafted fragment robots. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.

    1. Mari Velonaki – Diamandini (2011-2013)
      Diamandini is a 155cm tall custom-made humanoid robot incorporating an omni-directional wheeled motion platform; cameras, laser scanners and computers for real-time tracking and installation control. The humanoid robot is being developed through a five year research project between Mari Velonaki and robotics scientists at the Centre for Social Robotics, Australian Centre for Field Robotics, the University of Sydney. Diamandini will be making her first exhibition appearance in the Signs of Life: Robot Incubator exhibition as a work in progress. Spectators enter an installation space where a kinetic sculpture is moving about in a smooth, choreographed manner. The kinetic sculpture is a robot that resembles a small-scale female figure that does not bear any elements that would classify her as a typical android robot. The texture that covers the robot from her head to the hem of her long dress is porcelain-like, and makes her look more like a floating figurine rather than a robot. Her movement is accompanied by soundscapes generated from within her. When a spectator approaches the figurine she responds physically by turning towards the person and gently moving closer to them. Supported by: Australia Research Council and Centre for Social Robotics/ Australian Centre for Field Robotics, The University of Sydney.
    2. John Tonkin – nervous robots (2011)
      The robots are from John Tonkin’s nervous robots series. He is interested in how cybernetics has been used to construct computational models of different mental processes. His dysfunctional robots will explore some of these computational models of mind, awkwardly hybridising bottom-up AI approaches with more classical symbolic approaches that draw from a folk psychology conception of the mind as being the home of internal mental processes such as motives, desires, phobias and neuroses. attached/detached consists of two small autonomous robots that go through an ever shifting interplay of neediness and dismissiveness; with occasional moments of mutual happiness. These robots are primarily focussed on seeking or avoiding each other and will be oblivious to the audience. They draw on research by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth into attachment styles in adult romantic relationships. These different styles (secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant and fearful-avoidant) corresponded to different combinations of a person’s attitudes (positive or negative) towards themself and towards their partner.
    3. Kirsty Boyle – tree ceremony (2011) and fragment (2009-2011)
      Tree ceremony involves a robot interacting with a tree, creating an environment exploring how technology might bring us closer to nature. The work was commissioned by the Tinguely Museum and the Kunsthaus Graz for the touring ‘Robot Dreams’ exhibition, and comes direct to Istanbul from the ‘Puppen – Projectionsfiguren in der Kunst’ exhibition at museum villa rot in Germany. Fragment is a series of interactive modular robots, handcrafted in a range of different materials.  During the Signs of Life  exhibition a new series of robots will be developed that explore a range of differing aesthetic and gestural representations of artificial life manifested as performance machines.