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Uncategorized — isla @ 4:23 pm


project proposal



check it…





relevant works


Paul Pfeiffer

“Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” “The Long Count (Rumble in the Jungle),” “John 3:16,” etc.

(2001 – ongoing)

“There’s definitely a thrill. There are certain images…scenes that I feel captured by. There’s something special about the spectacle of seeing a human being at the center of the gaze of thousands of people. To me, it’s thrilling and also terrifying. There’s something very compelling about it to me. I feel empathy for the players on the court, and admiration when somebody’s able to shoot a three-point shot amidst all the hoopla.”

“In the video ‘John 3:16’…a reference to a passage so often quoted that its sort of the Biblical code for the New Testament that gives you the formula for salvation and eternal life. There’s an interesting kind of resonance that I see between this idea of a formula for salvation and eternal life and the promise of digital media that never break down and literally can live forever…that can always be copied endlessly. In a way, the medium itself represents a kind of promise that almost has spiritual overtones.”

“What I’m really interested in is where the medium fails, so that what you are seeing is the point at which the erasure can’t happen seamlessly. If the editing was done perfectly, then you wouldn’t see where the figure was at all, but in ‘The Long Count’ triptych you always do. There’s always this trace of where the figure was, and in a way you’re seeing the failure of my hand and the failure of the medium, and that’s kind of the ghost that’s left. And it’s that point of failure that I’m really interested in.”

– Paul Pfeiffer

Mika Rottenberg & Jon Kessler
“SEVEN”  (2011)


“a 37-minute piece involving seven live performers in an installation that includes video. The action centers on the transcontinental production of “chakra juice,” a magic elixir, one assumes, distilled from human sweat. It comes in the seven colors ascribed in Indian medicine to the body’s seven force centers, located at intervals from the bottom of the spine to the crown of the head. Performed continuously in a 37-minute cycle Wednesday through Saturday from 2 through 8 p.m., “Seven” combines the artists’ interests to entertaining, if not completely seamless effect.

At one end of the assembly line is a New York-based laboratory (the gallery) where sweat is harvested after some typically Rottenbergian exertions by several performers, and reserved in vessels made of a special clay; the clay arrives from the African savannah through the kind of pneumatic tubes once common to department stores. The African side of the operation, conducted by the residents of a tiny, isolated village, appears on television monitors.

With colored lights flashing, things zipping back and forth across the Atlantic, and liquids and solids changing state and hue — all under the watchful eye of a lab technician who conducts herself with the aplomb of a skilled illusionist — there is quite a bit of firsthand action to follow, most of it in line with Ms. Rottenberg’s aesthetic. But gradually the on-screen drama takes over; the savannah is not only mesmerizingly beautiful, it is also the juice’s destination. The closing scene, a kind of performance within the performance, seems to be mostly Mr. Kessler’s. It is unexpectedly dazzling, as, in a different way, is the realization that all this human effort we’ve just witnessed is for nature’s benefit.”

– Roberta Smith, NYtimes



Mika Rottenberg

“Tropical Breeze,” “Mary’s Cherries,” “Squeeze,” “Dough,” etc…

(apologies for this video, you don’t need to see her apartment, but it does show a good sampling / smattering of her work, which is hard to find in high quality online…)






Jeremy Hutchison

“Err” (2011)


“Emails were sent to factories all over the world. These requested that one of the production line workers produce an incorrect version of the product they make every day. 17 dysfunctional objects are shown alongside reams of confused correspondence, FedEx receipts, customs certificates and cardboard packaging.” – JH





Harun Farocki

“Deep Play” (2008)


Deep Play is a multi-channel video installation in which Farocki simultaneously projects full-length broadcasts of the 2006 FIFA World Cup final from 12 different vantage points. These include the official live TV broadcast, the artist’s own recording of the event, stadium surveillance, real-time action charts of player and coach statistics, 3D animation recreations, among others. It’s an all-encompassing and visually exhausting work – just imagine dissecting Zidane’s head-butt from 12 different angles. It’s pretty overwhelming.

And “overwhelming” is precisely what Farocki is exploring. Deep Play is a meticulous examination of a single event, a massive cultural spectacle watched by over 1.5 billion people across the globe. While rich in specificity, it’s impossible for the viewer to focus on any one thing at a time. Farocki doesn’t give his viewers a break. We are bombarded with data – facts, viewpoints, images – and even though it’s all extremely controlled and organized, we lack time and space to process everything for ourselves. Consequently, in spite of the overabundance of visual information, we are not seeing more or better. We are entranced – constantly distracted, not concentrated.

Deep Play, then, ends up being about much more than a football match. It references key concerns in Farocki’s oeuvre: the dynamics and politics of image production, mass circulation, and perhaps most importantly, the effects those have on individual and collective reception. Farocki demonstrates that how we perceive and witness images – our own subjectivity – is just as important, if not more, than the image itself.”     – Artlog



Bio-inspired,Machine Vision,Theory — Tags: — isla @ 4:33 am

Demonstrates a phenomenon, relevant to robotics I think, that falls somewhere in the theoretical bermuda triangle cornered by (1) lacan’s concept of the mirror stage, (2) that folk-psychology article we read, (3) alfred hitchcock.


“2 robot interaction”

(Please take notice of my lil gut hangin’ out… this gym is for us lazy kids with bad posture)






The following work by Matthew Hebert (posted below) relates to a discussion Adam, Dakotah, Rob and I had regarding where art belongs…. I think we decided that, eventually, inevitably, it seems to always end up, as all life does, buried in a land pit somewhere. Personally, I don’t mind if stuff I make ends up in the garbage. But I don’t really want to get into a discussion about whether art is “wasteful” or not, or whether it should be “useful” or not.

Instead, let’s just check out this project that might excite Adam, since it combines robotics with design & “utilitarian” shit for your home… you know, furniture.


^    This table is kind of “whimsical” (in a when-robotics-hits-Crate-&-Barrel sort of way?). But the designer is obviously a theory dork (<- no negative connotation), since here we see one of Braitenberg’s vehicles!  Maybe 2a style, mentioned on p.6?  Though you might not be able to tell from this not very revealing video, these little robots, imprisoned between two sheets of glass, move in the sun, and stay still in the “shade.” Their motors are most likely attached to light sensors. This creates a nice effect when you put something down on the coffee table, since they will flock to it and hide under it. Would I put this in my home if someone gave it to me? Sure. (But as Bob Bingham would ask, “Is it art yet?”)

Here’s another piece based on simple Braiteneberg architectures: a bench that moves itself into the sun (using light sensors in the front, back, and on both sides, as well as a microcontroller). These benches have solar panels on their seats that charge their battery (except, I guess, when someone’s sitting on one…hmmm….)   Watch out, this video is rather lengthy.

[Do we always have to use that Strauss composition from 2001 when introducing a monolithic design?][yes]


Coming from the “art” perspective: I think these projects could be more interesting if they complicated the nature of braitenberg architectures, perhaps simultaneously complicating the notion of utilitarian furniture. What if these devices were structured not to be useful? If this furniture made use of slightly extended models of braitenbergian forms (see the Lambrinos / Scheier article)… the emergent behaviors might appear more complex. This could get really weird and interesting, if we’re talking about furniture that is reacting to human use. Incorporating “artificial” learning, or the type of seemingly socially intelligent behaviors discussed in the article we read about folk-psychology might turn a table or a chair into something we really have to think about interacting with…. Heidegger would go bananas.


And last, this Hebert guy takes a stab at “art” !!

After all, if there’s one way to be SURE you’re making art …. it’s by putting it in a museum!

This apparently was a commission from the San Diego Museum of Art in 2011 for a weekly series themed around the topic of “what a city needs.”  Here, Hebert says he is approaching this theme “from an interest in power infrastructure and it’s critical importance to the city,” in relation to the often geographical remoteness of most of those forms of power. (Which apparently is especially true in San Diego). Hebert took public domain models from the Google SketchUp library, 3D printed them in ABS plastic, wired electronics to them, and placed them in the museum in what we MIGHT call “non-traditional” locations. Sounds like a well-followed recipe right out o’ the ol’ “art” cookbook to me!








Prototyping / modeling to create a system in which a user’s simple arm motion (which also blows up an inflatable muscle) controls a machine / “robot” that will lift a large amount of weight.


sloppy map of possible linkages:



FIRST UNICORN ROBOT! (Converses with “female”)


[pardon my screenshot bootleg, sound is pretty bad… go to the link!]


“First ‘chatbot’ conversation ends in argument”



This is an interesting example of robot interaction. Two chatbots, having learned their chat behavior over time (1997 – 2011 !) from previous conversations with human “users” are forced to chat with each other. This BBC video probably highlights what we might consider the “human-interest” element of the story, such as the bots’ discussion of “god” and “unicorns” as well as their so-called “argumentative” sides, supposedly developed from users. With these highlights as examples, it does seem fairly convincing proof that learning from human behavior… makes you sort of human-like! This type of “artificial” learning or evolution is really interesting, as it reflects back what we choose to teach the robots we are using:  we really can see that these chatbots have had to live most of their lives on the defensive. I would like to see unedited footage of the interaction. I am sure some of their conversation is a lot more boring. I noticed that the conversation tends towards confusion or miscommunication, almost exemplifying the point about entropy that Robert Weiner makes (p. 20-27): that information carried by a message could be seen as “the negative of its entropy” (as well as the negative logarithm of its probability). And yet, just as it seems the conversation might spiral into utter nonsense (and maybe it does, who knows, this might be some clever editing), the robots seem to pick up the pieces and realize what the other is saying, sometimes resulting in some pretty uncanny conversational harmony about some pretty human-feeling topics. Again, if we saw more of this chat that didn’t become part of a news story, I wonder if this conversation might slip more frequently into moments of entropic confusion. (I think those moments of entropy can tell us as much about the bots’ system of learning as their moments of success (as Heidegger / Graham Harman might say, we only notice things when they’re not working… though I kinda like lil wayne’s version from We be steady mobbin:  If it ain’t broke, don’t break it)….

If we view chatbots as an analogue to the types of outside-world-sensing robots we are trying to build, only with words as both their input and output, this seems to show that they really are capable of the type of complex feedback-controlled learning that Weiner suggests (p.24) and that Alan Turing was gearing up for. This experiment is not unlike the really amazingly funny conversation in the Hofstadter reading between “Parry” (Colby), the paranoid robot, and “Doctor” (Weizenbaum), the nondirective-therapy psychiatrist robot (p.595). So, actually, BBC’s claim that this was the “first chatbot conversation” isn’t quite right…

Nonetheless, perhaps an experiment worth trying again on our own time?

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