Floribots is a 128 robot origami flower interactive installation. It functions with “hive mind” characteristics by sensing the audience’s movement and adapting its behavior accordingly. The artist, Geoffrey Drake-Brockman programmed Floribots to simulate behaviors that are “both of an individual and a colony.” The technology of Floribots makes use of both software and electronics, allowing humans and machine to play creatively together. The artist installed sensors to detect the audience and in response the Floribots dance in waves creating a fun, interactive charged environment.
The interplay between the responsive system and human audience of Floribots simulates both wave and particle behaviors. Inside the artwork, the software mind formulates a response to the audience. The cybernetics allow for many social realities to arise in the interaction between human and machine; this creates an exciting and intriguing experience. The software mind consists of many concentric shells. The outermost shell deals with the sensors and the mechanics of Floribots and the innermost shell deals with its emotional state. The internal complexity of the artwork allows the piece to react and create a sense of liveliness.
When watching Floribots, I was memorized by the fluid rise of the flower-like machine. I felt like I was in a trance watching as the origami looking flowers rose and fell. I enjoyed the artists choice of colors for Floribots. The green stem and purple pot complimented the pink and yellow flower petals. The colors together worked to create a sense of happiness and possibilities.
I found the piece intriguing because of how it brings together biological, social and machine-based cell structure. In doing so, Floribots raises many questions about what a mind is and how a “hive mind” functions? Dr. Benjamin Joel, a world-renowned painter from Curtin University, states that Floribots hints at the controlling patterns of self-organization which arise across all cellular structures. The installation senses the audience and reacts as what Drake-Brockman calls the “technological other.” The flower-bots will grow bored of no motion and start clicking and clattering for attention or become extremely chaotic with too much stimulation from the crowd. The cybernetic flower garden parallels human interactions with technology, making for an uncanny commentary about the processes underway in society. Humans react to Floribots, similar to carrying and talking to a phone or yelling at your computer for not working fast enough, but instead of a motionless phone or computer, Floribots reacts back.
Floribots was announced the winner of the National Sculpture Prize for the People’s Choice Award in 2005 and has exhibited at a number of institutes including the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art in 2007 and the Singapore Art Museum in 2010. The artist has developed and broken new ground for “chrome plating, various forms of electrical and electronic engineering, high-end software systems, plastics chemistry, optics, laser engineering” and more.References