Autopoiesis is an artificial life robotic series of fifteen musical and robotic sculptures that interact with the public and modify their behaviors based on the both the presences of the participants in the exhibition and the communication between each separate sculpture.
This series of robotic sculptures talk with each other through a hardwired network and audible telephone tones, which are a musical language for the group.
"Autopoiesis, is a robotic sculpture installation commissioned by the Kiasma Museum in Helsinki, Finland as part of Outoaly, the Alien Intelligence Exhibition curated by Erkki Huhtamo, 2000. It consists of fifteen robotic sound sculptures that interact with the public and modify their behaviors over time. These behaviors change based on feedback from infrared sensors, the presence of the participant/viewers in the exhibition and the communication between each separate sculpture. This series of robotic sculptures talk with each other through a computer network and audible telephone tones, which are a musical language for the group. Autopoiesis is "self making", a characteristic of all living systems which was defined and refined by Francisco Varella and Humberto Maturana. The interactivity engages the viewer/participant who in turn, effects the system's evolution and emergence. This creates a system evolution as well as an overall group sculptural aesthetic. Autopoiesis breaks out of standard interfaces (mouse) and playback methodologies (CRT) and presents an interactive environment, which is immersive, detailed and able to evolve in real time by utilizing feedback and interaction from audience/participant members.
Autopoiesis utilizes a number of unique approaches to create this complex and evolving environment. It uses smart sensor organization that senses the presence of the viewer/participant and allows the robotic sculpture to respond intelligently. I have used smart sensor organization in past papers to describe the process of organizing the sensors in such a way that they can be minimized in number while maximizing the abilities of the software to cope with the data. This idea was also explored at the Fourth Neuromorphic Engineering workshop at the Telluride Summer Research Center where participants noted that just a few sensors can be used to create complex interaction if the sensors are properly organized. For example, at the top of each sculptural element (or arm) four passive infrared sensors face North, South, East and West. When two sensors are triggered, the program knows that someone is located in, for instance, the Southeast corner and this is the direction the sculpture moves to. Four sensors allow eight quadrants of sensing. These passive infrared sensors tell each arm to move in the direction of the viewer, while the active infrared sensor located at the tip stops the arm as it arrives within inches of the viewer. This allows the sculpture to display both attraction and repulsion behaviors."