Mobile Feelings II

An evoloution of the first Mobile Feelings in 2003, Mobile Feelings II is a commentary on how the mobile phone, though making individuals more accessable, has also undermined privacy. People are exposed to details of stranger’s private lives, making them more self-aware and hyper aware of others around them. Mobile Feelings II is a piece that focuses on “the ambivalence of sharing personal information with an anonymous audience.” (1) This is done by allowing strangers to communicate with each other using special mobile “phones” that simulate human sensations. The shape of the “phones” is organic, meant to make for a more comfortable interaction, adding to the experience. This piece essentially brings the human experience back to technology, bridigng the gap between the two and acting as a human surrogate. 

The two egg like “phones” are meant to be held by two strangers in the room. They simulate heartbeat, blood pressure, skin conductivity, pulse, smell, and sweat. This is done through the use of vibrators, ventilators, and electrochemical systems that mimic that of the person holding the other “phone”.  The “phones” work on a standard mobile network, allowing for particpants to use them anytime and anywhere, just like they would a normal mobile phone. (1)

““Mobile Feelings” is an artistic
project that investigates how technology has transformed our social and
individual lives and how we have accepted a reduced sense of privacy
in exchange for connectivity and mobility. The project also explores how
the sense of “touch” still remains one of our most private sensations,
which we often avoid to share with strangers (2) and still lack a concise
language to describe (3).”


Artists’ Website:


(1) Sommerer, Christina. Mobile Feelings II. (

(2) Stenslie,
S. 1996. “Wiring the Flesh: Towards the Limits and Possibilities of the
Virtual Body,” In: Ars Electronica’96. Memesis. The Future of Evolution.
Vienna/New York: Springer

(3) Heller,
M. A. and Schiff, W. (Eds.) 1991. The Psychology of Touch. Hillsdale, NJ.:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Box of Men

Ken Feingold’s piece “Box of Men” addresses the concept of justice and jury-driven judicial sentencing. “Box of Men” displays several puppet/doll-like figures sitting within a suitcase (All digitally displayed on an LED screen, not physical puppets or suitcases), meant to represent a jury. They hold discussions amongst themselves about an unspecified crime that they are overseeing, endlessly so long as the program running them is executed. Their dialogue isn’t
predetermined but rather generated by a program that assigns somewhat relevant lines to each puppet/doll and gives them an order in which to speak. According to Feingold, “The work explores the idea that those who decide the guilt or innocence of others may be acting in frighteningly arbitrary and seemingly random ways. The puppets assume the role of a tribunal or jury, talking about others as if from an objective point of view, but clearly objectivity has nothing to do with this picture.”[1] It is an interesting work that brings up the unnerving notion that our own judiciary systems may employ mentalities such as the ones Feingold is portraying in his work.

[1]: Official artist’s statement

Inflatable Architectural Growth: Narrative




Chico MacMurtrie’s Inflatable Architectural Growth (IAG) Narrative (2007-present)


For years, Chico MacMurtrie has been obsessed with creating sculptural works that blur the lines between human and machine, living and inanimate. As his collection of automatons nears the 300 mark, his focus has turned from building human-like machines to constructing clearly artificial forms, which seem somehow imbued with a life and mind all their own. From robots that copy the viewer’s movements, to a classic car that unfolds itself into a behemoth of a totem pole, MacMurtrie’s works always challenge the audience to interact with them as one would with another living being. 

The Inflatable Growth project began in 2007, debuted in 2008, and finally reached “maturity” in 2010 at the Absolute ZERO Outdoor Street Festival in San Jose, CA. Utilizing his inflatable bodies technology, MacMurtrie’s flexible installation consists of four, five-meter robotic arms protruding from a central hub. The piece is installed in an outdoor public space to encourage maximum audience participation. Once a participant engages one of the four arms in play, the sculpture comes to life. Each arm reacts to the positioning and movement of it’s director, as well as direct touch via sensors located on its underside. Through experimentation with movement and touch, participants can work together to move the arms into complex and cohesive compositions, effectively collaborating with the seemingly sentient machine to create their own unique sculptures. Should the participants quickly exit the area when finished, the piece will return to its resting state; however, should they take the time to admire their work, the arms will linger in their pose to allow the unexpected-artists their gratification. The result, as desired by MacMurtrie, is that participants, machine, and onlookers alike come to feel a symbiotic relationship with one another, reinforcing the basic structures and characteristics of life that bind all things.

Unstoppable Hum 2


Unstoppable Hum 2 uses the barely audible sound generated by electricity emitted from products like lights, computers, refrigerators, etc. (called electro-mechanic activity), in addition to the constant humming of the human body (syncopated and erratic life sounds), and turns the vibrations into music. There are two robots on a wall that perceive this low and ever present energy. The first robot’s job is to ‘listen’ via contact microphones, which detect the electromagnetic activity in the gallery space, and depending on how the microprocessors respond, the robot translates the signals and blows air over glass bottles of water in varying notes to essentially compose music. The second robot utilizes a geophone to detect human movements and sounds, microprocessors translate the information into digital signals, and the bot generates sounsd by pushing water through a tube. The first robot is louder, and meant to demonstrate all of the non-human activity, while the second acts as though the building itself were responding to the people within it. Together, they are a comment on the relationship shifts between humans and technology, and the ever-growing prevalence of electricity in modern cultures.


snows.1.gif"Carolee Schneemann, one of the pioneers of performance art and experimental cinema, created an interactive electronic environment for her multimedia performance, Snows, which premiered in New York in 1967, amidst growing violence during the war in Viet Nam. Engineered by E.A.T., the seats of the Martinique Theater were wired so that the audience’s response triggered various light and sound effects."

"A complex and multi-faceted installation/stage incorporatd colored light panels, film collage, hanging sacks of colored water, 'snow'-covered branches, rope, foil and foam…. Created in protest of the US involvement in Vietnam, performers enacted a range of roles including victim, torturer, lover and innocent.  Projected on the installation and performers was Schneemann's experimental film Viet Flakes, which showed images of war atrocities, ironically juxtaposed with a sound track of classical, religious and popular Vietnamese and Western popular music."[1]

"… [Snows] was built out of my anger, outrage, fury and sorrow for the Vietnamese. The performance contained five films whose related content triggered juxtaposition of a winter environment and Vietnam atrocity images." – Carolee Schneemann

Alphonse Schilling filmed the performance, which was released as a video by Electronic Arts Intermix. Unfortunately, the silent video provides little sense of interactivity, the sonic elements of the event, or the role of Viet Flakes in it.

[1] Edward Shanken, Art and Electronic Media, 2009, p 28

[2] Ibid. p 99.

For more information, see the artist's website:

Music for Solo Performer – for enormously amplified brainwaves and percussion

EEG electrodes attached to the composer/performer Alvin Lucier’s scalp detect bursts of alpha waves generated when the performer achieves a meditative, non-visual brain state. These alpha waves are amplified and the resulting electrical signal is used to vibrate percussion instruments distributed around the performance space.1

The first work in history to use brain waves to generate sound. It was composed during the Winter of 1964-65, with the technical assistance of physicist Edmond Dewan and was first performed on May 5, 1965, at the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University with the encouragement and participation of composer John Cage. The work has been performed many times by Lucier, in solo concerts and on tour in Europe and America with the Sonic Arts Union. 2

1. Text from Wikipedia article on Lucier (cited 6 July, 2011)

2. Text from Lovely Music entry on the LP recording (cited 6 July, 2011)

The Jew of Malta

Jew of Malta - medial stage and costume design


The Jew of Malta – Scenic Concept: Content-driven Interaction

The Jew of Malta – Development of Costume Design

Description of the project

 The goal of the project was the enhancement of the traditional static stage setting into a reactive and dynamic stage design that plays its own vital role in the narration.

On the stage, large planes were arranged onto which architecture, generated in real-time, was projected. The projection screens formed clipping planes through an imaginary virtual architecture positioned on stage. Machiavelli’s – the opera’s protagonist’s – movements and gestures were camera-tracked, and the virtual architecture moved according to his movements and gestures. This concept allowed linking the staged action and the architecture closely: Machiavelli, as a powerful and dominant character in the play, has power over the stage (and consequently over his co-actors) through the possibilities of interaction given to him.

In addition to the architecture, the costumes of the actors were also augmented with digital media. Via a tracking system developed especially for this opera, digital masks were generated in real-time, according to the silhouettes of the actors. Textures were then pasted onto these masks, and the ensuing “media costumes” were projected to fit exactly onto the singers. This way, it was possible to depict the characters’ conditions and feelings with dynamic textures on their bodies.

Despite the complexity of the software and hardware developed for this project, technology was never at the forefront. The exclusive aim was to generate new ways of expression for the director and the actors.

The project was commissioned by the Opera Biennale Munich in 1999 and premiered in 2002. Composer: André Werner, libretto based on the novel by Christopher Marlowe. The project is a co-production between ART+COM and bureau+staubach, supported by ZKM Karlsruhe. Co-authors and developers: Nils Krueger, Bernd Lintermann, Andre Bernhardt, Jan Schroeder, Andeas Kratky.


EOD 02

EOD 02 is an installation by Frederik De Wilde created in collaboration with LAb[au]. The title is an acronym for “Electric Organ Discharge.”  The work consists of four aquariums, each one containing an electric fish that discharge different electric signals. The artwork explores the capacity of specific species of living blind fish to perceive (electrosense) their environment and communicate with each other by emitting electric signals, either in pulses or waves.

The electric communication between the fish is captured by antennas and transformed into sound. Also, under each aquarium a matrix of LEDs is placed, which pulse according to the intensity and rhythm of the emitted signals. Because of this, the viewer can see that the electric impulses of the fish drive sound, light and an entire audiovisual space. [1]

The entire world is dominated by electricity and  the applications to use it. In medicine – and particularly in fields more or less connected to neuroscience – electricity is even more pervasive. For example,  sensory reflexes that are based mostly on a crowd of minute electric signals which continuously flow along the nerve fibers of our brain circuits or nervous system. Other life-electricity associations that come to mind are fictional, like the spark that gave life to the monster Frankenstein. Our own nervous system uses an electrochemical signaling system, like an unstoppable ‘electric storm’.

Living electric fish however, are capable of generating low-voltage discharges at all times. They also produce a weak electromagnetic dipole field around their bodies as means of navigation, protection, and communication. When two of these fish meet, one of them will shift its frequency to jam each others electric signals. “The electric organ contains electrically-excitable cells called ‘electrocytes’, acting as serial-connected batteries, like a car battery. The simultaneous firing of electrocytes results in electric organ discharges (EODs) which are emitted into the surrounding water. You could say that every time they discharge -or zap- they sense and digitize their environment. They also sense pollution in the water and through technology we can make these electric discharges audible. Changes in the rate of pulsing can be used to identify the presence of certain chemicals in the water source.” [2]

subRosa talks about bio technology. “Today, however, bew biological entities, new bodies and organisms are being created through molecular biology, genetic engineering, and transgenic technologies.” [3] The reason this has to do with EOD 02 is that scientists still have to figure out how the living electric fish stay are producing the electric signals. Mankind can produce the similar signals, but only with the help of technological progress. Looking from this point of view, the fish are a natural predeccor of the modern man (+ technology). Furthermore, “the translation of the fish’s electric discharge in form of light and sound references the telegraph and the Morse code; themselves traces of the emerging information society based on the coding and decoding of information into immaterial signals.” [4] If mankind could do the same, new biological entities like the ones subRosa talks about could arise.



[1] Website LAb[au]


[3] in Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 253

[4] Website LAb[au]


From the artist’s website:

Remembrancer, n.
One who, or that which, serves to bring to, or keep in, mind; a memento; a memorial; a reminder.

Remembrancer is a net-aware sculpture that observes and records data collected over the
Internet and sensors within the gallery. Over the first four weeks of the exhibition, three networked machines with robotic painters will deposit paint little-by-little on three panels. The amount of paint placed at a given moment shall be controlled by a computer program that will be interpreting data from gallery-installed sensors and from Internet sources. Along with the daily changing accumulation of paint, a field of sound will be similarly generated in response to the same data.


The completed work–an accretion of overlapping monochrome fields of color and sound–will be exhibited over the last two weeks of the exhibition. The machine-mediated process provokes questions of authorship and translation. Remembrancer confronts the loss inherent in transformation, the distortions introduced by the medium onto which–and the assumptions in effect when–memory is transcribed, the inevitable simplification of phenomena that accompanies acts of observation, and the spacial, temporal and cultural resonance of events. 


Remembrancer: loss and authorship

Taking data from local, national as well as global sources and combining these feeds into three paintings at a time, each in one color — blue, green and red –, the work explores the simplification and thus the loss of data that occurs when pure data is combined into a meaningful object instead of a raw stream. The work acts as a filter, making a form of sense out of a plethora of information, much like humans forget, categorize and filter all input to construct ideas, thoughts and memories. The work is thus ultimately about the loss that is experienced in this process.

Due to the various inputs being spread across local, national and global locations, questions concerning authorship arise. The original artist is the enabler, but the result of the actual paintings and accompanying soundscapes are a product of all that is produced information-wise. On this level, two days after the Virginia Tech shootings, the painting being made by the local feed of information came up with two rather ominous looking red guillotines, as seen below.



Remembrancer in relation to other works

Joseph Nechvatal’s ec-satyric0n explores a parallel of loss in his work, pictorially integrating in a robot-assisted painting the loss of subjectivity on various levels when immersed in virtual space. Both forms of loss occur when a human is confronted with a system, a virtual space being either that which is created by data or that which is derived from it.

In a more art historic perspective, the actual paintings as made by the robots are reminiscent of the 1940s and 1950s Color Field movement, being large, solid surfaces of color on a flat canvas, with more attention to form and process than for brushstrokes or the action of painting itself.

In between the differents layers of data, time, space and agency, the work explores limitations, possibilities and consequently their implications. “Where one once spoke of coundaries, borders and limits we find today new territories. These new artistic terrains are open to new possibilities and relate to one another in productive ways.” (Kac & Antunez Roca 1997, p. 249) It is exactly these new ‘possibilities and productive ways to relate to one another’ that the loss occurs, which is explored in Remembrancer, painting a picture of a slightly less positive and maybe somewhat more realistic view of the processing of data by machine, man and the combination thereof.

Links and references

Kac, Eduardo and Antunez Roca. Robotic Art, 1997. In: Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009, p. 249. 


Color Field on Wikipedia

The Brain Mirror

From the artist’s website

“BrainMirror is an interactive experience where the image of the visitors brain appears mixed with his/her mirror image, using natural head movement as an interface to explore volumetric visuals of the human brain.

Designed and built by 3 independent artists and technologists, putting our skills together we aimed for creating an interface that works without learning for all age groups, and fosters communal interaction, interaction among the different visitors. Our interaction thinking is focusing on creating a simple but powerful language for the visitors to explore the otherwise complex MRI brain data. Everybody, including Kids and elderly people can use the installation instantly without learning the interface.

BrainMirror is tracking the head movement, and displays generated brain models on a projection surface is 1 meter behind a half transparent mirror making the projection seem to float in the air 1 meter in front of the mirror. The visitors can find models of brain lobes, sub cortical systems, pathways and centra of the brain with an information overlay pointing out different anatomical parts and describing their functionality, and several volumetric renderings of MRI data. Volumetric renderings are explored by moving closer to the mirror, using the mirror as a slicing plane. All modes grow as we move closer to the mirror, a natural actions by the visitors to see more details.”

The Brain Mirror

The Brain Mirror: Cyborgs, Education and Esthetics

By combining MRI-scans, motion tracking, open source software, mirrors and interactive digital graphics, Brain Mirror creates not only an educational, but also an aesthetic experience. The seamless interactivity combines the graphical with the flesh, as if it were an actual part of the body, which it in a sense is, simply blown up slightly, but still in the same place.

The externalization of the brain and its virtual enlargement thereof, serves not only a practical purpose; it also explores notions of the cyborg or the person interacting with technology being ‘more advanced’ than a ‘regular human’, as increased brain size is commonly associated with increased mental capacity and human superiority over other living organisms. Indeed, by wearing the helmet nessecary to use the Brain Mirror, one becomes a cyborg, becoming a form “in which elements of the robotic other are integrated with the human organic norm within a single entity…” (Piper 2001, p. 250).

The installation helps educate the human utilizing the installation.  In this regard, it fulfills the role of Cyborg-related art theorized by Jack Burnham, by shifting “from the direct shaping of matter to a concern for organizing quantities of energy and information. Seen another way, it is a redocusing of esthetics awareness … on matter-energy-information exchanges and away from the invention of solid artefacts. [Such forms of art] prompt us not to look at the ‘skin’ of objects, but at those meaningful relationships within and beyond their visible boundaries.” (Burnham 1968, p. 247) This reminds us once more that the helmet, the custom-made circuitry, the MRI-scanner or the mirror itself are not the artwork, but the experience that is delivered, that which exists only by grace of the interaction with and input by a human. The work needs a human to exist, which subtly reconfirms the nessecity and importance of the human as the main subject in a increasingly robot-populated world.

The Brain Mirror

The Brain Mirror in relation to other artworks

Concerning the body as the locus and measure of all things, being at the center of attention, this work can be compared to the Einstein’s Brain Project of Alan Dunning and Paul Woodrow and ConFIGURING the CAVE by Jeffery Shaw et al, as these projects explore the coupling of visual and corporeal and interacting using bodies (or body-like objects) to navigate a virtual experience. It also is similar to Robot Cowboy, which is parallel to this work in exploring man-machine integration to help the human body and mind express, learn or understand.


Links and references

Burnham, Jack. Robot and Cyborg Art, 1968. In: Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009, p. 247.

Piper, Keith. Notes on the Mechanoid’s Bloodline, 2001. In: Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009, p. 250.

The Brain Mirror

Robot Cowboy

The Search for Luminosity

The Search of Luminosity  Source artist website

This installation that was at ArtBots 2008 in Dublin falls into the group ‘bio-art’. But unlike much bio-art, this work gently points toward a happy cyborgian union of biology and machine [1]. Allison Kudla uses technology and biology in her art to learn more about the world we live in.

For The Search for Luminosity, Kudla used six living Oxalis Regnelli (a.k.a. ‘lucky shamrock’) and one lamp dedicated to each plant. These plants have a special ability or characteristic to open their leaves when the sun/light appears, and to lower them at night. But that’s not all. The plants have a built in biological clock, which makes the opening process begin before the sun appears in order to give them a head start. Through evolutional survival, this must certainly have proven to be effective, enabling the plant to absorb more sunlight.

This plant is well suitable to an feedback loop installation. The exact working is explained in this video. In short: a scanner checks every plants’ status continuously for the positioning of their leafs. When a plant is preparing itself for sunrise, the scanner will switch the light above the plant on, while turning it off at the plant on its opposite side. This way, the plant can demand for sun. The installation is coordinated so that a cycle takes 24 hours to complete.

The Search of Luminosity  Source artist website

Kudla wants to give her plants some form of authority and power and herself some insight into the world. “By placing a level of communication between a plant and its sun, an additional degree of freedom is gained to the organism. In doing so, the movements of the organism caused its own physical structure and rhythm to change. It was only through this loss of balance that the reorganization could occur. Thus giving us a peek into the methods whereby we can recognize ourselves as open systems involved in a similar encounter.” [2] 

The Search of Luminosity  Source artist website

Ken Rinaldo also did a piece in which he illuminated living organisms in order for them to grow and to study their behaviour. He discussed this in ‘Technology Recapitulates Phylogeny: Artificial Life Art (1998) [3]. At one point, he says: “The collapse of individualistic, reductionist, hierarchical thinking has given rise to simultaneous world consciousness and therefore ideational plenitude. With this synthesis, humans are able to exploit models of living systems that demonstrate the possibilities for technology further recapitulating phylogeny. The hope is for a sustainable melding of our biological environment and the technotope. I for one look forward to the day when my artwork greets me with a ”good morning’ when it has not been programmed to do so.” Rinaldo also wants to see other biological life improving its intelligence. Kudla takes this one step further, by providing them with with tools of self empowerment. Will the earth see the day when it is ruled by plants?


[1] VIDA, Art and Artificial Life (international awards)

[2] Allison Kudla’s website

[3] Rinaldo in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media (Phaidon 2009): p. 249-250



Face Visualizer

‘Experimental media artist Daito Manabe choreographs a synchronized face dance for four friends by hooking them up to the Face Visualizer, a device which converts music into electrical impulses that stimulate the facial muscles.'[1]

The video above is funny to watch. Each of the guys’ faces has its own life – uncontrolled by them.  Manabe states of his motivations for this project:

‘I got inspired “we can make fake smile with sending electric stimulation signals from computer to face, but NO ONE can make real smile without humans emotion”. This is words from Mr. Teruoka who is my collaborator to make devices.’ [2]

Another project that uses the face as an interface, or a blank canvas, is Emotor (AEM, p 160, see linked entry). Artist Tim Hawkinson stated the following about his project:

‘I started thinking about imagery and the face and how any kind of input into the face – no matter how irrational or unpatterned – would still create something we can decipher, look at and read and get some message from… Emotor uses the expressions of the face that are so cued into reading the face. I took a picture of myself and cut the features up into little peaces, like a puzzle, and rearranged the features. And each time I did it, I created a different emotion, and that’s just something I read into it.’ [3]

So both artists used technology to let their faces display emotion. It sounds a little backwards. The only thing that computers can not feel are emotions. It is probably one of the biggest distinction between man and computer. The artist both seem to explore human emotion and how this is displayed on the face. The data typical characteristics for the emotions are digitalized and reproduced. N. Katherine Hayles states about this informatization of the self (virtual body):

‘… the body is neither simply material object nor informational pattern but both at once. The crossings and interpenetrations constituting the virtual body call for a more sophisticated and nuanced approach than simply binary thinking can provide. It is when one duality is chosen over another – when the body is seen as information – that its erasure seems possible’ [4]

I don’t think that Emotor or Face Visualizer cross that line. Although Manabe gives bodyhack workshops which suggest a close relation between body (wetwear) and hardware. But don’t worry; as seen in the video, a smile is a smile and no computer can simulate a real one – at least not yet!

Hawkinson - Emotor




[3] Tim Hawkinson, in Art and Electronic Media, p.160

[4] N. Katherine Hayles, in Art and Electronic Media, p. 262

Machine with Grease

And then I got a call from a friend who wanted to have a show of erotic art, and I didn’t have any pieces. But
when she suggested to be in the show, this piece came to mind” [1]

The sculptures of Arthur Ganson are sometimes funny, sometimes smart, sometimes ingenious, sometimes philosophical, sometimes poetic and sometimes ironic. Most of the times it is a combination of all these mentioned above. I think Machine with Grease is a perfect example of his work. A nice combination of sex and a machine. As Ganson states:

“This is a happy machine, I’ll tell you.” [1]

But you can ask yourself; can machines be happy? Do machines have a hedonistic side? Are machines not just empty shells who wait for a command from above (the command from the human)? It happens a lot that artists give their machines a anthropomorphic touch. Think about Pamphleteer from the Institute for Applied Autonomy (IAA). They created a robot that distributed pamphlets.

‘Studies have shown that people are more likely to accept literature from a robot than a human activist. Pamphleteer, aka Little Brother, is a propaganda robot which distributes subversive literature. Pamphleteer is designed to bypass the social conditioning that inhibits activists’ ability to distribute propaganda by capitalizing on the aesthetics of cuteness. Pamphleteer is designed in the tradition of America science-fiction films and Japanese toy aesthetics.’ [2]


So in short, we human beings accept more from a computer than from ourselves. What does this mean? Creating human-like objects is not something new. Think about the Greek myth of Pygmalion. He was a sculpture who felt in love with a statue he had created. He asked the Gods to make her come to life, which Aphrodite granted. But we also have the stories of Frankenstein and Der Golum. It seems that since the existence of mankind (or womankind) humans have been fascinated with creating the representation of themselves.[3] We want to be like God. We want to create our own replica. And because the use of mud and wood seems to be ineffective for this aim, we have focused ourselves on machinery. Technology.

But even though a robot may look like us, talk like us and behave like us, I don’t thinks it will ever be like us. It is missing that one thing we don’t really understand ourselves: a soul. No algorithm, how intelligent it may be, can cross that gap. Or can it?


[1] Arthur Ganson makes moving sculpture, inspirational talk on Ted

[2] Institute for Applied Autonomy, in Art and Electronic Media, p.159

[3] Edward A Shanken, “Hot to Bot: Pygmalion’s Lust, the Maharal’s Fear, and the Cyborg Future of Art” (2005)


Underground British artist Giles Walker is no stranger to robot art. For the last 20 years, he has been creating kinetic sculptures and robots, using discarded materials found in scrap yards all over Europe. He is a member of the guerrilla-art group THE MUTOID WASTE COMPANY.

His 2007 work entitled Peepshow, exhibited for the first time at Trash City, Glastonbury Festival, has been a massive success in the underground scene.

Peepshow consists of two female ‘exotic’ robotic pole dancers, accompanied by a robotic DJ and what appears to be a drunk robotic viewer. The two females are fully animated and controlled via PC, using a DMX lighting programme. They are powered by two V12 car wiper motors, found on a scrap yard, along with the other materials.

What is rather poignant about this piece is that the heads of the two female pole dancers are not normal, humanoid robotic heads. Rather, both heads are a CCTV camera. Walker wanted to show that we are “now all living in a peepshow. Continually being watched by mechanical peeping toms on every streetcorner.” [1] Keeping this in mind, Walker wondered whether “it was possible to literally make a CCTV camera sexy using simple mechanics…and by using the imagery of a pole dance question the roles played in voyeurism.” [2]

There is a lot of criticism concerning CCTV cameras, and whether or not it is necessary to watch the public using these cameras. Like Walker said, there is something remarkably voyeuristic about these cameras: you know you are being watched but not by whom. By turning the CCTV cameras into strippers, Walker had created a role reversal. In stead of us, the public, being watched in a (perhaps sexual) way, we now watch the cameras. The cameras perform for us, are degraded by their sexual and exotic act, and we, the public, may feel like we have gained some form of leverage on these invasive cameras.

Another fascinating aspect of Walker’s Peepshow, is the movement of the strippers. The sway of their ‘hips’, the tilt of their ‘arms’, they all perfectly mimic a natural, human movement. Walker has stated that he has seen “many robots and met many robot builders and I think where mine are different are that I try to give them movements that create character and not to perform a function.” [3] Function, thus, is something Walker is not interested in. He creates robots to create robotic characters, to have those characters interact with their audience, rather than have his robots be functional things, only able of performing a predestined path.

Giles Walker - Peepshow

Peepshow is somewhat similar to Security by Julia [4] created by Julia Sher. Both artists have used their artworks to expose the CCTV (and general security recording systems), clearly placing them ‘out in the open’, by deliberately using them in the wrong context. As Shanken said, “Sher can make the technologies of an otherwise closed and private system accessible to the public, opening up a space to question the widespread use of these same technologies in modern society.” [5] Peepshow by Walker enables an audience to question the use of CCTV as well, opening up the debate by placing them in such an erotic and racy environment.

But why would Walker use robots to expose the CCTV? Eduardo Kac states that “[r]obots make room for social criticism, personal concerns, and the free play of imagination and fantasy.” [6] By using his pole dancer robots, Walker opens up a space for debate and deliberation, one that seems to be available to robots only.


Artist’s Website


[1] [2] Walker, Giles. Pole Dancers. Retrieved from

[3] Walker, Giles. Robots. Retrieved from

[4] [5] As found in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: pp 127.

[6] Kac, Eduardo and Marcel.lí Antúnez Roca. Robotic Art (1997). As found in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: pp249

Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0


Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0 was part of the exhibition INFECTIOUS in Dublin’s Science Gallery. This exhibition explored “mechanisms of contagion and strategies of containment through a range of exhibits, experiments and epidemic simulation.” [1]

Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0 is also a part of Anna Dumitriu’s project Normal Flora, which is her own major ongoing art project about “our sublime microbial world.” [2] She wishes to make clear the way in which we co-exist with millions upon millions of bacteria and microbes, which we encounter in everyday life. Not all of them are harmful, and Normal Flora wishes to show that bacteria are as much a part of our eco-system and not as disgusting as is usually thought.

The artwork is based upon two forms of communication: bacterial and digital. Bacteria communicate in a very dense, complex and continuous way, using air-born forms to communicate with their environment. Similarly, digital communications follow this same pattern, being dense, complex and also continuous, ongoing without an end. Dumitriu et al. decided to combine these two forms of communication to create a ‘new’ artificial life form, a life form able to use the bacterial and digital communications to its advantage. They wish to explore “the layers of complexity in both digital and organic communications networks and [investigate] the relationship of bacteria to artificial life.” [3]

A device is placed in front of the installation, which registers any form of live data stream in its vicinity. Our mobile phone devices, Bluetooth, wireless and RFID activity are all picked up by this electronic device and translated into data. Similarly, communication activity between bacteria (most likely a fixed recording, though no clear information is given about this) is also picked up and translated into data.

Both forms of data are then inserted into a specifically written computer programme, created by Lorenzo Grespan. This computer programme uses the communication data from both forms – bacterial and digital – to generate an artificial life form, a life form with access not only to our biological origins (after all, are bacteria not an important aspect of our own lives?) but also to our entire communications network. The computer manages to create a “chimeric life form” able to “subvert both biology and technology.” [4]

Thus, the primary question of Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0 can be formulated as “[w]hat would a creature with access to humanity’s digital knowledge, the genetic toolbox that drives evolution; the sophistication of the pathogen; and awareness of all our intimate vulnerabilities do?” [5]

Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0

Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0 can be compared to Eduardo Kac’s Genesis [6], since both Kac and Dimitriu et al. use bacteria and biological processes to create a new sort of organism, triggered by audience interference. There is one major difference between Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0 and Genesis, however. The processes in Genesis enable an entirely new life form to be created, one that actually exists. Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0 only creates a computer generated life-form, a life form that is only theoretical, and not ‘real’.

(Though, were Dimitriu et al. to create a ‘real’ life form with access to both digital and biological knowledge, there would probably be all sorts of ethical issues raised not beneficial for the piece of art.)

Nam June Paik stated that “cybernetics is the exploration of the boundary regions between and across various existing sciences.” [7] Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0 is a perfect example of inhabiting these boundary regions, since it is no longer just biology or bacterial studies, nor is it communicational sciences, nor is it computer sciences. It is a combination of all of these, creating an interactive and fascinating art piece, a piece of art that is lifted far above the sum of its separate (scientific) elements.



[1] Green, Jo-Anne. ‘Live Stage: Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0’. Networked Performance Blog. Retrieved from

[2] ‘Introduction’. The Normal Flora Project. Retrieved from

[3] [4] ‘Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0’. The Normal Flora Project. Retrieved from

[5] Green, Jo-Anne. ‘Live Stage: Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0’. Networked Performance Blog. Retrieved from

[6] As found in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: pp158

[7] Paik, Nam June. Cybernated Art. As found in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: pp198

La Princesse

La Princesse is a 50 ft large mechanical spider, weighing about 37 tonnes and with a maximum speed of 2 mp/h. [1] It is operated by at least 12 performers, who can move the spider’s eyes, legs and belly, in order to recreate as much of the insects real movements. Due to 50 “intricate hydraulic joints”,  the ‘realism’ of the giant spider’s movement is guaranteed.

La Princesse is a performance run by at least 340 people, keeping a clear eye and making sure nothing goes wrong. The giant spider is able to use 7 special effects; it has a water canon in its beak (which can fire 20ft long jets of water spray) and has the ability to use flames, smoke, wind, snow, light and sound. [2]

The spider is made of “reclaimed poplar wood” and steel. It took more than 100 engineers, 1 year, and about 2 million Euros to create this intricate performance art project. [3] It was designed by François Delarozière, who is the leader of the troupe La Machine. [4]

Showcased in Liverpool in 2008, La Princesse wowed the audience with its performance. The Guardian wrote that “[s]he waved her massive legs at the crowd and they waved back, she sprayed water and the crowd begged for more, and when se was caught in a snowstorm and went to sleep in the middle of the main retail area, the audience gave out a collective sigh of pleasure as if they had all been given a precious free gift. It turned out to be a very bad day for shopping, but a great day for art.” [5]

In 2009, La Princesse was shipped to Yokohama (Japan) to perform in the  Expo Y150, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Yokohama Port. There it stayed for the duration of the 5 months exposition. Performances included a water ballet, where it “moved its mechanical legs and shot steam and water from its mouth and rear end, while suspended over the water from a large crane. Water cannons, fog machines, lights and live atmospheric music added to the drama.” [6]

La Princesse

All in all, La Princesse is an amazing piece of robotic hydraulics, and an beyond entertaining and somewhat terrifying performance by a group of French enthusiasts.

This performance is not just a robotic moving sculpture, created to entertain the audience. As Eduardo Kac says, “[r]obots are not sculptures, paintings, or video art. Art robots are not to be confused in any way with mechanical looking, static anthropomorphic statues or sculptures. Robots are a new art form an they are prone to be hybridized with diverse technologies. This quality makes them transcend the category of object to be diffused into the environment” [7]

La Princesse can be called many things, but certainly not an simple object of sculpture that happens to be moving. The fact that the creation of La Princesse took a large amount of techniques not necessarily associated with arts (engineering, hydraulics, etc.) it is a prime example of a hybridized from, combining art and mechanical art with ‘diverse technologies’. It also ignores Michael Fried’s (critic) notions that “sculpture must resist becoming theatrical in order to maintain an independent art.” [8] (it should be noted that, just because it is a form of robotic art, does not mean it is not ‘sculpted’ or can be stationary and therefore like sculpture) Rather, the entire theatricality of La Princesse is what makes it an impressive and unique work of hybridized art.



La Machine Website


[1] [2] [3] McDermot, Nick. ‘Revealed: the Secrets of the 50ft Robo-Spider’. Mail on Sunday Online. 6 September 2008. Retrieved from

[4] ‘La Machine’, Liverpool Capital of Culture 2008 Website. Retrieved from

[5] Gardner, Lyn. ‘La Machine’. The Guardian. 8 September 2008. Retrieved from

[6] Pink Tentacle. ‘Giant robot spider in Yokohama’. 19 April 2009. Retrieved from

[7] Kac, Eduardo and Marcel.lí Antúnez Roca. Robotic Art (1997). As found in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: pp249

[8] Burnham, Jack. Robot and Cyborg Art (1968). As found in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: pp247

Little Big Man

Little Big Man is a huge robotic piece by Nemo Gould, 8 feet in height (approx. 2.5 meters), made entirely of pieces found in industrial waste sites, dumpsters or any sort of pre-existing materials. Gould does not use raw materials.

The robot consist of (a) “vintage wooden radio cabinet, street lamp poles, vacuum cleaner parts, industrial food processor, antlers, chair legs, dining room table top, floor polisher, miscellaneous found pieces of hardware and scrap metal, motors, lights.” [1]

The mouth and arms of the robot start moving when a motion sensor senses an audience, creaking and looking menacing in all its 8’ glory. However, further inspection shows that in the big robot’s belly, there is a smaller, and more fragile looking robot, operating this bulky and menacing robot himself.

Little Big Man was created as a part of the exhibition “Robots: Evolution of a Cultural Icon”, at the San Jose Museum of Art. Gould used more wood for his robotic construction than he normally would, in order to set it apart from the other robotic pieces present. He wanted to explore a certain ‘inner world’ feeling, and was “pleased with the resulting split personality that this piece has. Equally tough and vulnerable.” [2]

The fascinating aspect of this work is that it represents a comic realisation of the notions of a ‘robot’, it being large, tough and menacing, frightening to us comparatively small humans. Yet, upon closer inspection, there is another aspect of this robot that is so vulnerable, so small, and the entire menacing quality of the robot falls away upon this realization. When one notices the small robot operating the big robot, the fragility of the robot-within-robot is all the more poignant and striking. Perhaps this piece can then be seen as a critique on future societies, with enhanced yet still fragile body parts. No matter how large something is, there is always a smaller object that can be the absolute downfall of the larger ‘monster’.

Detail of Little Big Man - Small Operating Robot

Gould’s artist’s statement makes clear what he wishes to embody with all his works, and why he uses pre-existing ‘waste’ to create them:

“What makes a thing fascinating is to not completely know it. It is this gap in our understanding that the imagination uses as its canvass [sic].  Salvaged material is an ideal medium to make use of this principle. A ‘found object’ is just a familiar thing seen as though for the first time. By maintaining this unbiased view of the objects I collect, I am able to recreate forms and figures that fascinate and surprise. These sculptures are both familiar and new. Incorporating consumer detritus with my own symbology, they are the synthesis of our manufactured landscape and our tentative place within it – strong and frail at the same time.” [3]

This balance between strong and frail is perfectly embodied by Little Big Man. It embodies not only the (industrial) waste which we leave behind, but also our place as humans within a society so obsessed with getting rid of things, in order to get the ‘latest and greatest’. The robot shows we humans are frail ourselves, no matter how big or indestructable we believe ourselves to be.

Gould’s use of ‘consumer detritus’, or ‘found objects’ makes his work and intermedium, as stated by Dick Higgins. Higgins said that “[t]he ready-made or found object is, in a sense an intermedium since it was not intended to conform to the pure medium, usually suggests this, and therefore suggests a location in the field between the general area of art media and those of life media.” [4]

Gould’s robots do not conform to the pure nature of robotics, since he uses ‘old’ materials in stead of new, newer, newest. Robots are generally considered to be the latest in technology, and to use old and discarded materials to create these is almost as if you are turning around the very essence of the robot itself. It is ‘born’ out of old materials, in stead of created with all sort of new and shiny materials created especially for this robot.

Because of the intermedium value of Gould’s robots, and specifically Little Big Man, the artist is standing on the fine line between ‘art media’ and ‘life media’, between being simply artsy and subtly critiquing modern day society.


Artist’s Website


[1] [2] Gould, Nemo. Little Big Man. (2008). Info retrieved from

[3] Gould, Nemo. Artist’s Statement. Retrieved from

[4] Higgins, Dick. Intermedia. (1965). As found in Shanken, Edward. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: pp196


Autotelematic Spider Bots

Autotelematic Spider Bots is an artificial life installation by Ken Rinaldo and Matt Howard. It consists of 10 spider-like sculptures that can sense and interact with the public in real-time. Because on this, they self-modify their behaviours, based on the interaction with the viewer, themselves, their environment and their food source. The spider bots are chimera’s, they see like bats with long-distance ultrasonic eyes and shorter distance infrared eyes, and twitter like birds. Their necks are very flexible and unlike their looks might suggest, they contain a certain aesthetic grace when doing their unique walking motion.

Working to combine elements of engineering, architecture, entymology and more, Rinaldo tried to create a quasi-ecosystem that would sense, react and ‘speak’. [1] [2] He does have experience in these installations as he created Autopoiesise in 2000. It consisted of 15 robotic sound sculptures. Like Autotelematic Spider Bots, the elements in Autopoiesis modified their behaviour over times as a response to public interaction, exhibiting individual and collective behavior. [3] As Rinaldo says, “I am interested in the intertwined symbiosis of all living things at all levels and scales. What is happening in our technological world is a systemic approach which doesn’t take on ecology and communication.” [4]

Eduardo Kac and Anunez Roca wrote in Robotic Art that robots are a new kind of art. “Robots are not only objects to be perceived by the public […] but are themselves capable of perceiving the public, responding according to the possibilities of their sensors.” [5] This description aptly fits the interactive Autotelematic Spider Bots.



[1] Website artist

[2] More information on art work

[3] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 160

[4] More information on art work

[5] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 249

A SoaPOPera for Laptops / A SoaPOPera for iMacs

A SoaPOPera for Laptops  A SoaPOPera for iMacs

G.H. Hovagimyan and Peter Sinclair collaborated to experiment with sound and speech software to make computers interact with each other and the people around them. This experiment resulted in two artworks; ‘A SoaPOPera for Laptops‘ and ‘A SoaPOPera for iMacs‘.

Begun in 1997, ‘A SoaPOPera for iMacs‘ consists of four iMacs with plastic wigs, sitting on furniture in a circle in a living room. The artwork uses voice recognition- and text-to-speech software as well as Max programming. There are 4 characters; Ralph, Princess, Kathy and Fred. They talk to each other about cars, sex, shopping, politics and food. They also burst into song at odd moments. The characters respond to each other via spoken keywords, uttered by the computers or the audience, that trigger responses thus affecting natural conversation. Often the words are misunderstood and the conversation takes off in bizarre directions. A video recording of the installation can
be viewed here.

A SoaPOPera for Laptops (2005) is only slightly different from the iMac version. It consists of four laptops on radio controlled cars. The laptops are mounted on custom made loudspeaker-trailers. This piece also uses voice recognition, text-to-speech and max programming. The four vehicles are essentially performers. The performance involves the four characters talking to each other or A SoaPOPera for iMacs/Laptopssinging. The laptops and the iMacs both depict human mouths on their screens.

Sinclair and Hovagimyan also perform with the characters by playing guitar or talking to them. A pitch tracking software allows the laptops to listen to a string of notes and sing along. The characters cars are controlled by perfomers. A video recording of a performance of A Soapopera for Laptops can be viewed here.

The artists created new content and programming structures for each performance. As a consequence there are several difference titles for this performance work denoting the different developments. The alternate titles are: ‘Exercises in Talking‘ and ‘Les Jaseurs‘. [1]

The iMacs and Laptops are ‘dressed up’ as caricatures of human beings. This can be seen as a parody of Jack Burnham’s perspective on robot aesthetics; “These new systems prompt us not to look at the ‘skin’ of objects, but at those meaningful relationships within and beyond their visible boundaries.” [2]


Relations to other artworks

In the realm of robot-to-robot interaction, A Soapopera for Laptops and A Soapopera for iMacs fit neatly into the branch of bot-to-bot dialogue. The roots of bot-to-bot dialogue lie in natural language artificial intelligence research, such as Joseph Weizenbaum’s ‘ELIZA’ (1966). [3]

Drawing on bot-to-bot dialogue, several artist have attempted to create a community of artificially intelligent bots that communicate with each other. A Soapopera for Laptops and A Soapopera for iMacs are one of the earliest attempts that generated notable attention. David Rokeby’s ‘n-Cha(n)t’ (2001) is a somewhat more refined attempt. The bots in this community share the complex linguistic database generated by the artist’s ongoing work, The Giver of Names (1991).

Ken Feingold’s ‘The Animal, Vegetable, Mineralness of Everything’ (2004) uses bot-to-bot dialogue to raise philosophical questions, by having three self-portrait humanoid heads debate about the origins of an unidentified object in front of them.

The artwork’s website can be found here.

More information about the artist, G.H. Hovagimyan, can be found here.



[1] Artworks website, <>

[2] Burnham, “Robot and Cyborg Art” excerpted in Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 247

[3] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009: p. 40

The Girlfriend Experience

Online avatar communities have made an enormous growth. These online social gatherings are known by a variety of names, including ‘online communities’, coined by early pioneers such as Howard Rheingold, who describes them as ‘cultural aggregations that emerge when enough people bump into each other often enough in cyberspace’ (1).

The growth of online communities such as Second Life and World of Warcraft has enabled the creation of a personal online social and economic existence. With this growth, a lot of questions arise. Questions about our own existence, but also questions about the consequences and even the dangers of online communities, for example, the well-known “Rape in Cyberspace” reported by Julian Dibbell in the Village Voice in 1993.

Artist Martin Butler pushes these ideas with his work, ‘Girlfriend Experience,’ a multiplayer game allowing you to enter into a real-life person and use this person as an avatar. Because the avatars are real people, in order to win their trust and have them perform special tasks, you first need to get to know them and find out what is possible. If you are rude they will probably cancel your playtime.

Butler presents four human avatars to play with. At home, the user can log in with his character of choice. Each avatar was equipped with a small wireless headset transmitter consisting of an eye view 135 degree mini camera, a microphone and earpiece. The user can direct his avatar, walk around the space and even challenge him or her. The user crawls under the skin of his avatar, for in ‘Girlfriend Experience’ he lives the live of his online avatar. But that’s not all. You can even observe the avatars live in their ‘Analog Villa’, three days a week from 18.00 till 23.00. (There is one law though, the ‘no fluids-exchange..)


‘The title of the project, The Girlfriend Experience, denoted the paradoxical character that online social interaction has. On one hand, the safe anonymity by using the avatar, on the other the intimate releases and projections that can spread easily. For Martin Butler it was this merging of two apparent extremes, anonymity and intimacy, which characterized an important part of contemporary social traffic. The best paid prostitutes are the ones with whom the client feels as though he is with his girlfriend, or with whom he has a Girlfriend Experience’ (2).


The project ‘Girlfriend Experience’ can be linked to earlier work in the book, Art and Electronic Media.. ‘TechnoSphere’(1996) for instance, is, in th words of its creator, Jane Prophet, ‘an online project that enables users to design artificial life forms and send them into a 3-D virtual world where they interact with life forms designed by other users of the Web site. Our intention was not to create a groundbreaking artificial life environment, but rather to produce a project that made certain aspects of artificial life accessible to a wide audience’ (3).


1. Reingold, 1994.


3. Jane Prophet, Art and Electronic Media, p. 249.






“Helena” by Marco Evaristti

“Ten white Moulinex Optiblend 2000 mixers were placed on a simple table. Each of these was filled with water and contained a live goldfish. The mixers were visibly plugged in and thus ready to use. Anyone pressing the yellow button would thereby kill the fish. The visitors thus became the judges of life or death.  An hour after one of the visitors had pressed one of the buttons, the police would enter and order the electricity to be cut off. Meyer was charged with animal cruelty and fined 2000 Danish Crowns, upon which he appealed. During the following laborious trial expert witnesses were called to provide evidence on the way in which the fish were killed, ultimately establishing that, in contrast to customary methods, the short duration of the killing of maximum one second was one of the more humane methods. On May 19th 2003 the BBC reported Meyers acquittal with the headline “Liquidising goldfish not a crime”: … But a court in Denmark has now ruled that the fish were not treated cruelly, as they had not faced prolonged suffering. The fish were killed instantly and humanely, said Judge Preben Bagger.  The show trial in the service of the freedom of art reached its conclusion. Did Evaristti calculate in the factor of media reaction right from the outset? Was the killing of one or more fish his intention? Was the trial part of the art project?

Marco Evaristti and "Helena"

Evaristti did not in any way encourage the visitors to kill the fish, but left the decision to them.  According to eyewitnesses, the killing of the first fish created a charged atmosphere among the numerous media representatives who were present who virtually encouraged the visitors to press the button in order to initiate a scandal  something they ultimately achieved.  The public followed Evaristtis division of society into three groups: the idiot, who pres-ses the button [the sadist], the voyeur who loves to watch, and the moraliser. […] The media and the public were the voyeurs and the animal protection groups and those others who protested were the moralists.  The artist sees his installation as a social experiment in which he tries to interpret reality through reality, and not through a lie. Evaristti distances himself in this way from the representa-tion of horror in the sense of the classical art term, since he considers the interpretation of what happened as a falsification of reality.” 1.

The given option to “transform the content into fishsoup”, as one a reporter put it, shook up a lot of people and got a lot of media attention, which can be compared to the appearance of a cure for impotence. In an internet poll conducted by the CNN, 72% (which were 30,592 votes) thought this was definitely not art. Unexpectedly, Helena was defended by animal rights philosopher Peter Singer, argueing that the given option of turning the blender on, raises the question of the power humans have over animals. 2.

Another artwork that raises questions on the power humans have and exercise is Eduardo Kac’s Genesis, fosussing on the ethics of DNA manipulation. Kac displayed a text from the biblical Genesis accrediting humanity dominion over its environment, thereby helping the audience to consciously think about the intended subject. Evaistti did not help his audience to understand the intention he had when creating Helena, possibly this was one of the causes for its misunderstanding.

Helena also resembles Free Range Grain of Critical Art Ensemble, because this performance laces the contemporary food industry. By putting the goldfish into a blender, Evaristti too made an evident reference to the contemporary food industry.

This artwork helps to disclose the effects of interconnections between technology, desire and ethics on the ‘use’ of animals. SubRosa has a similar goal, but these activists conflict for equality of men and women (AEM 253). In a sense, animals and women can be equated to the extend that they are both minority groups, put in a disadvantaged position by discourses deeply embedded in our culture. The sad part is that the animals are unable to speak up for their rights.

The video below shows a commercial for the Aarhus Museum, one of the museums where Helena was diplayed.

1. Source:

2. Paraphrased from: Baker, Steve. Picturing the beast. Animals, identity and representation. University of Illinois Press: 2001. Urbana

Pulse Park


On a Friday evening in Madison Square Park, you can register yourself at a kiosk. But, instead of giving your name, in the case of ‘Pulse Park’ you register your heartbeat. ‘Pulse Park’ is an installation of artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and is inspired by the 1960’s Macario. In this film, the protagonist hallucinates that every person on Earth is represented by a flickering candle. This idea inspired Lozano and in ‘Pulse Park’ ‘you see the remains of people who have left their hearts behind’ (1).

The use of light in or even as an artwork is not something new. In traditional visual art, light was often used as a source for illumination. Electronic media facilitate the liberation of art from conventional stasis and provide a means for it to consist of light itself (2). As Otto Piene says on his artwork ‘Light Ballet’: ‘my endeavour is a twofold: to demonstrate that light is a source of life which has to be continuously striving for larger space. We want to reach the sky. We want to exhibit in the sky, not in order to establish there is a new art world, but rather to enter new space peacefully – that is, freely, playfully and actively, not as slaves of war technology’ (3).

    ‘‘Pulse Park’ is comprised of a matrix of light beams that graze the central oval field of Madison Square Park. Their intensity is entirely modulated by a sensor that measures the heart rate of participants and the resulting effect is the visualization of vital signs, arguably our most symbolic biometric, in an urban scale. Visitors to Madison Square Park have their systolic and diastolic activity measured by a sensor sculpture installed at the North end of the Oval Lawn. These biometric rhythms are translated and projected as pulses of narrow-beam light that will move sequentially down rows of spotlights placed along the perimeter of the lawn as each consecutive participant makes contact with the sensor’ (4)


Two years earlier, the artist made a similar artwork named ‘Pulse Room’. This room is an interactive installation consisting of one to three hundred clear incandescent light bulbs, which are 300 W each and hung from a cable at a height of three meters. The light bulbs are distributed over the exhibition room, filling it completely. An interface placed on a side of the room has a sensor that detects the heart rate of participants. When someone holds the interface, a computer detects his or her pulse and immediately sets off the closest bulb to flash at the exact rhythm of his or her heart. The moment the interface is released all the lights turn off briefly and the flashing sequence advances by one position down the queue, to the next bulb in the grid. Each time someone touches the interface a heart pattern is recorded and this is sent to the first bulb in the grid, pushing ahead all the existing recordings. 


  2. Edward Shanken, Art and Electronic Media, p. 16.
  3. Otto Piene, Art and Electronic Media, p. 198
  4. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, 2008



In Warp, Steina makes use of her two favourite features of the Image/ine software, written by Tom Demeyer at STEIM (a center for the development of instruments and tools for performers in the electronic performance arts) in Amsterdam in 1997. The first feature – ‘warp’ – is a time delay software, which scans one line at the time, leaving the rest of the image motionless. With the second feature – ‘slit scan’ – a point or line in a continuously moving image is captured and streamed forward. The capturing line can be at the sides, middle, top or bottom as seen in the video.  This latter effect was first seen in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

Image/ine was developed by Demeyer in collaboration with Steina. It was the first piece of software for normal desktop computers that allowed users to manipulate uncompressed video in real time. Limited, at the time, to 320×240 pixels at some 10 frames per second, it nonetheless proved a point: real time video manipulation was possible.[1]


Warp is a combination of video art and performance. In it, Steina departs from what is normally considered ‘space’ in video, what we see ‘in front of the camera.’ With the help of the Image/ine software, she extends visual perspective through the modulation and modification of images and through the addition of multiple layers. Steina’s image in Warp morphs continuously, through both the software effects and her natural movements. The fluctuating image reveals multiperspectival movements and a trail of sculptural forms of movement are left behind in the video.

Steina scrutinizes “the frame” and treats it like an entity of its own that has a particular behaviour of its own. “The image has spatial appearance and behaviour.” [2] As her partner Woody Vasulka stressed in 1984, “What [feedback] did to us was to give us clues to the behaviour of an electronic image (…) if you have the imagination to extend that clue into the expression, then you have material which you can learn to control.” [3] Through spatial immersion in Warp, one becomes aware of the interactions between body-machine and machine-machine and that these relationships are internal processes. What is fascinating in this work is that despite one seeing the mapping of the image in constant flux, Steina exerces complete control over her video performance.

In addition, Daniel Swan, a BA Graphic Design student at Camberwell College of Arts recently shot a music video inspired by Steina’s Warp for the London based DIY band, PENS.



[2] Spielmann, Yvonne, Video and Computer: The Aesthetics of Steina and Woody Vasulka: Image Becomes Object, FDL, 2004

[3] Yalkut, Jud, The Alternative Video Generation, 1984, In: Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London:
Phaidon, 2009, p. 209


Funky Forest

‘Funky Forest’ is an interactive ecosystem where children create trees with their body and then divert the water flowing from the waterfall to the trees to keep them alive. The health of the trees contributes to the overall health of the forest and the types of creatures that inhabit it.'[1]

Emily Gobeille and Theodore Watson created a playful environment where kids can explore the system. In a interview, Watson reacts on the question ‘What do you think the most important thing for interactive design?’ as follows:

Hmmm. I think, building open systems. Systems that can be played with and used in ways that were not intended. I am always more interested in the ways that people use my work that I never thought of and I think it is possible to design interactive systems that nurture that. [2]

Funky Forest could be seen as evolution based on the work of Myron Krueger called Video Place (1974-1975, see linked entry). ‘In 1973 Krueger coined the term ‘artificial reality’ to describe the responsive environments he created as part of his doctoral research on human-computer interface design. As he wrote, ‘An artificial reality is a graphic fantasy world in which a person uses her whole body to participate in an experience created by computer. I realized this was more than a technology – it was a culture-defining concept.’ [3]

Video Place is an artwork where, as Krueger noted, ‘participant’s face a video projection screen that displays their live image  (captured in silhouette by a surveillance camera) combined with computer graphics.’ [3]

Another comparison can be made with the project A-Volve (1994-5, see linked entry) by Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau. They created an interactive computer installation. ‘… users create and observe artificial life forms by interacting with virtual fish-like creatures ‘swimming’ in a glass pool of water. Using a touch-screen monitor, the user designs a creature by selecting a variety of anatomical and behavioral characteristics, then releases it into the aqueous ecosystem.’ [4]

All projects have a key roll to the participator. Particators interact with the installations, create objects and play with it. For Sommerer and Mignonneau is the interplay between the installations they create (they have made similar work) and the participator is very important: 

‘Based on the insight that interaction per se and the interrelation between entities and the driving forces behind the structures of life, we investigate interaction and the creative process a such. Creation
is no longer solely understood as an expression of the artist’s inner creativity but instead becomes an intrinsically dynamic process.’ [5]

They also talk about the educational part of installations:

‘… we see interactive installations as an important medium to bridge the gap between purely artistic, educational and entertainment design criteria and convey artistic as well as scientific concepts and ideas.’ [6]

I agree with them personally, Funky Forest and A-Volve show us how fascinated we are by these immersive environments. It would be great if we can learn by interacting, playing with it. Because in the end, aren’t we not all a child of the Homo Ludens?



[2] Interview with Theodore Watson, Hitspaper, undated.

[3] Krueger in Art and Electronic Media, p. 166

[4] Ibid., p. 152

[5] Sommerer & Mignonneau, in Art and Electronic Media, p.254

[6] Ibid., p.255

For more information about Homo Ludens (the “Playing Man” of Johan Huizinga) check

Growth Modeling Device

Interview with the artist David Bowen about Growth Modeling Device

“This system uses lasers to scan an onion plant from one of three angles. As the plant is scanned a fuse deposition modeler in real-time creates a plastic model based on the information collected. The device repeats this process every twenty-four hours scanning from a different angle. After a new model is produced the system advances a conveyor approximately 17 inches so the cycle can repeat. The result is a series of plastic models illustrating the growth of the plant from three different angles.”


Similar to this artwork is one of Bowen’s other works, Growth Rendering Device (2007, below right) which involves 2-D printing of a plant’s growth progression on paper.

Growth rendering  device

Both Interactive Plant Growing (1993) and Telegarden (1996) are related to Bowen’s work as they are involved in plant life and the growth and development of plants. Interactive Plant Growing virtually simulates plants that are actually present at the installation. They also progress but instead of prototyping the plants their real time evolution is simulated in virtual space. In Telegarden growth of the plant is not duplicated or simulated but influenced. Participants on the internet are able to get involved in nurturing a real plant garden. In short, the three artworks combined duplicate, simulate and interact with plant life.

A great example from a different perspective of art and from a different era is Dawn Burn (1973) by Mary Lucier. Here progression is also staged and captured, not by prototyping but by burning in the progression of the sun at dawn in seven television tubes.

Michael Rees expresses his love for Rapid Prototyping in Rapid Prototyping and Art (1998). Michael Rees stresses the possibilities and instant similarity of the Rapid Prototyping technology, “[t]he most unbelievable claim I made to my art dealer is what is most true about this technology: WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get. If you can imagine the form and describe it in a CAD program, it can be build, done.”. In the case of Growth Modeling Device, the technology is not used for rapid prototyping but more as rapid reproduction or rapid surrogate creation.

[1] Artist website:

[2] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009 P. 211

Life Writer

“Life Writer consist of an old-style type writer that evokes the area of analogue text processing. In addition a normal piece of paper is used as projection screen and the position of the projection is always matched with the position of the type writer roll. When users type text into the keys of the type writer, the resulting letters appear as projected characters on the normal paper. When users then push the carriage return, the letters on screen transform into small black and white artificial life creatures that appear to float on the paper of the type writer itself. The creatures are based on genetic algorithms where text is used as the genetic code that determines the behaviour and movements of the creatures.” [1]

The philosophy behind Life Writer is that of emergent interaction by user interaction: “By connecting the act of typing to the act of creation of life, Life Writer deals with the idea of creating an open-ended artwork where user-creature and creature-creature interaction become essential to the creation of digital life and where an emergent systems of life-like art emerges on the boundaries between analog and digital worlds.” [1]

The interactive virtual life environment is also present in A-Volve (1994-5). Here participants are able to create creatures – in this case fish – more specifically by profiling their virtual fish. The fish evolve by surviving attacks of other fish and procreate passing along their code profile. The creatures in Life Writer reproduce similarly but survive by eating the letters the participant sends into the virtual world, not each other.

In Artificial Life and Interactivity in the Online Project TechnoSphere (1996) Jane Prophet discusses her project TechnoSphere as an application of artificial life as a medium. Here participants are able to create a virtual creature to let it develop itself in the virtual landscape subsequently. “For example, a creature can splice digital DNA with another if they are similar, but only if both creatures are more than 50% full of food, otherwise cybersex is out of the question and the search for food takes priority.” [2].

TechnoSphere is also similar to the approach of Life Writer in the evolution of artificial life: “The notion of self-organising artificial life systems which we have used in TechnoSphere depend on a ‘bottom-up’ approach, with behaviour emerging as artificial creatures interact, rather than us imposing a ‘top down’ control on behaviour.” [2].

The only ‘top-down’ control in Life Writer is death. In the complete document by Jane Prophet, she also states that “Our intention is that users should not be able to interfere with creatures by, for example, killing them” [3]. This is an distinct difference with Life Writer where in Life Writer the participant does have control over both creation and death by striking the typewriter keys and using the scrolling functionality of the typewriter respectively.

[1] Project website:

[2] Edward Shanken, red. Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009 P. 249

[3] Artist website:

Robotarium X

Artist Leonel Moura’s Robotarium X is the first zoo for robots. At the center of this public garden in the Jardim Central in Lisbon, Portugal, is a large glass structure containing 45 robots, most powered by photovoltaic (solar) energy. The robots are all original, created specifically for the project, representing 14 species classified by distinct behavior strategies and body morphologies. Obstacle avoidance, movement or sunlight detection and interaction with the public are some of the robots skills.


Robotarium X approaches robots very much in the way as we are accustomed to approaching human beings. We, humans, enjoy watching and studying the behavior of other life forms and many people also enjoy capturing and killing them. However, in this case, although the robots are confined to a cage, the Robotarium is their ideal environment with plenty of sun, smooth surfaces to move on, tranquility and attention. There are no fights or aggression and the only competition is to assure a place under the sunlight (1).

As Jack Burnham asked himself in his essay ‘Robot and Cyborg Art’, ‘Is it possible then that art is a form of biological signal?’ ‘If man is approaching a time of radical change, one not controlled by natural selection and mutation, what better non-scientific way exists for anticipating self-re-creation than the spiritually motivated activity of artificially forming images of organic origin?’ (2) Following this, Robotarium X can be seen as an art work of a new kind of art that realizes a critical questioning of knowledge and culture. Notions like nature, life, the artificial, machine, art, culture and science, are challenged by this display.

Inspired by the Johnson Solid named ‘Bilunabirotunda’ the structure is made of steel and glass creating a very transparent environment that allow for a good visibility from the exterior and plenty of sun exposure for the robots. The space inside is around 22 m2 with 4 meters at its higher point (3).

Another great artwork by Moura, which involves animal or better ‘insect robots’, is ‘Portable Robotaria’. This is a series of lab-like displays containing ‘insect robots’ fed by electric light.


2. Jack Burnham, Art and Electronic Media, p. 247


“Pulse Room” by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

"Pulse Room" at Artefact Festival, Leuven BE

Pulse Room is an interactive installation featuring one to three hundred clear incandescent light bulbs, 300 W each and hung from a cable at a height of three metres. The bulbs are uniformly distributed over the exhibition room, filling it completely. An interface placed on a side of the room has a sensor that detects the heart rate of participants. When someone holds the interface, a computer detects his or her pulse and immediately sets off the closest bulb to flash at the exact rhythm of his or her heart. The moment the interface is released all the lights turn off briefly and the flashing sequence advances by one position down the queue, to the next bulb in the grid. Each time someone touches the interface a heart pattern is recorded and this is sent to the first bulb in the grid, pushing ahead all the existing recordings. At any given time the installation shows the recordings from the most recent participants.

This work was inspired by Macario, directed by Roberto Gavaldón in 1960, a film where the protagonist suffers a hunger-induced hallucination in which every person is represented by a lit candle in a cave. Other references for this work include minimalist, machinic and serialist patterns in music (for example in scores by composers Conlon Nancarrow, Steve Reich and Glenn Branca) and the postulation of the theory of Cybernetics at the National Institute of Cardiology in Mexico City to explain the process of self-regulation of the heart.” 1.

"Pulse Room" lightbulb close-upRafael Lozano-Hemmer creates an awareness of the audience that participated in the piece by showing their former presence in a visualy impressive environment. Witness by Susan Hiller more or less does the same thing, supported by sound. Mikami’s World, Membrane and the Dismembered Body also uses sound, supported by visualisations, to create awareness of the bodily functions, instead of using only illumination. As Pulse Room functions through simulation of the heartbeat, Bodies© INCorporated by Vesna, Nideffer and Freitas is based visitors making their own simulations. The visitors of both works are incorporated in the pieces, each participant retaining their own identity in the ‘public’ flux. Bodies© INCorporated though, wages critique on contemporary capitalism, a critique that is nowhere to be found in Pulse Room.

Pulse Room is a fairly accessible piece of art, enjoyed by artlovers and non-artlovers alike as a special experience. This corresponds with Lozano-Hemmer’s own plea against the views on ‘Technologically Correctness’ in art and how art should be ‘Technologically Correct’. In Perverting Technological Correctness (AEM 240) Lozano-Hemmer claims that in judging if a contemporary media artwork is ‘Technologically Correct’ one should observe the level of ‘specialness’ and that these artworks do not have to meet certain arbitrairy rules, like providing global culture and introducing infinite creative possibilities. Pulse Room has this certain specialness, ignores all the established rules on ‘Technical Correctness’.

1. Source:

“Creepy Circus Song” by ArcAttack

Creepy circus song's tesla coil generators“Texas group ArcAttack make music by manipulating electrical arcs generated by Tesla coils . In these two videos (shown below, ed.), they perform Creepy Circus Song.” 1.

“The crew of Texas-based band ArcAttack are responsible for creating the incredibly neat Singing Tesla Coil, which was present again at 2009’s edition of Dragon*Con. Almost like a real-life AniMusic (computer animated music, ed.), ArcAttack features a robotic drummer, an organ made of PVC pipe, and of course their giant Singing Tesla Coils. Add in a bit of guitar and you have an ArcAttack show. Check out the awesome Tesla Coil emulator over on their website. A very interesting and unique experience.” 2.

This work uses tesla coils to generate spectacular visual and sonic effects much like lightening and thunder, as in the work of Orr and Schwartz.  Similarly, the use of high voltage electric current in Doorway to Heaven by Chris Burden, reveals the dual mythic nature of electricity – as a vital source of energy but as a potential hazard that can take life away (as in Mary Shelley’s Victorian thriller, Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus.

Without the existence of science an espescially physics, this artwork could never have been made. This fact, brings to our attention that science and art must closely work together and form a pact. For long, back in 1920, Gabo and Pevsner pleaded for this joining of forces in their Realistic Manifesto. Both disciplines can benefit from eachother, and most important of all, humanity benefits from this cooperation.

1. Source:

2. Source:

Technology Recapitulates Phylogeny

Four elements of the sculpture installation with house lights up

The left frame holds an image of a circuit board on acetate. The two middle images hold human brain cells on acetate. The right form is an aluminum basket with a plate of live tubefex worms and a Hollyhock root underneath comparing various tree structures.

Sculpture in a dark room

The light in the center of the basket is activated by human presence and projects the shadows of the tubefex worms on the wall and ceiling above the sculpture. Note how the worms are extending themselves up the side to the plate. When you touch the end of one of these fingers the whole plate of worms reacts as if a single creature. (supra-organism)

Hollyhock root

The similarity of these root structures to the mass of worms and brain cells indicates that nature has evolved an efficient structure for matter, energy and information distribution, across many different species. Note the dendrite-like smaller roots off the main root.

Human brain Cell

This is a cell of the Thalmanic Nucleus.

Circuit board

This circuit board demonstrates a classic tree structure with centralized microchips fanning out along branches of wires and circuits to remote sensory and activation devices.

Tubefex worms

Notice how the worms organize into small supra-organized clumps with all clumps remaining in contact with others through interconnecting worms.

Tubefex worms

Here there are two central masses clumping


interactive media art installation “gravicells”

“Gravity and Resistance: We are in the life environment which is not escaped from gravity. The project is advanced having a new appreciation of them anew. This work presents the dynamic processes of the interactions between gravity and resistance and aware of our bodies and feel the potential of new perception” [1]

Seiko Mikami and Sota Ichikawa’s media art work “gravicells” provides a space with hypothetical dynamics having the opposing forces of gravity and resistance, through special devices and sensors. Walking freely in the site, visitors are able to feel gravity that they are seldom aware of, resistance to it, and the effects caused by other participants. All movements and changes made by participating visitors are transformed into the movements of sound, light (LED) and geometrical images through the sensors, so that the whole space develops or changes in this interactive installation. Additionally, the position of the exhibition space is simultaneously measured by GPS, and with plural linked GPS satellites as part of the work, it involves some observation points outside the earth. Open Space 2008 April 2008- March 2009/InterComunicationCenter in Tokyo, EL MEDIO ES LA COMUNICACION April – June Tenerife, Canary Islands 2007.Mois Multi Quebec, Canada 2007. OOH Media Art Festival Gijon,Spain 2006.Japanese postwar art and technology Nov – Dec InterCommunication Center in Tokyo JAPAN 2005. ArsElectronica Sep O.K. center in Linz 2005. EXIT and VIA March – April,FRANCE 2005. SHARE FESTIVAL Torino ITALY, Feb 2005. transmediale Berlin Germany 2005. DEAF04 Van Nelle Ontwerpfabriek in Rotterdam Netherland 2004. YCAM May – June Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media JAPAN 200.[2]




“Studies have shown that people are more likely to accept literature from a robot than a human activist. Pamphleteer, aka Little Brother, is a propaganda robot which distributes subversive literature. Pamphleteer is designed to bypass the social conditioning that inhibits activists’ ability to distribute propaganda by capitalizing on the aesthetics of cuteness. Pamphleteer is designed in the tradition of American science-fiction film and Japanese toy aesthetics. The robot’s utility is not driven by technological sophistication, but rather by its aesthetic appeal, or “cuteness factor” (CF)….[….].” [1]

[1]:Edward A. Shanken, Art and Electronic Media, p.159


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Translation of the description from

This virtual interactive facility, designed by Catherine Ikam and Louis-François Fléri the occasion of the inauguration of new premises at IRCAM, depicts the encounter between a face, voice synthesis modeled and generated in real time and a visitor whose movements are also collected and analyzed directly.

It represents a new stage of research undertaken at the initiative of artists with Mac Guff Ligne and Fifth Agency since the presentation of the Other in 1992 at the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art as part of the exhibition “Face Discovered “.

In 1995, Catherine Ikam and Louis-François Fléri create a new installation, “Le Messager”, broadcast during the exhibition Cities Cinés 2 Defense. This new piece of software using graphics display much more powerful (reflection mapping) combined for the first time production of sounds in real time developed on this occasion by the music stations at IRCAM.

Saturday 7 JUIN 1996, ALEX was born in 16 hours at IRCAM. Alex depicts an encounter between an artificial and a visitor. This is just a mask, as in the other or the messenger, but a clone of a dual digital out of the collection of “Virtual Portraits” by Catherine Ikam. Its creation required several steps: capturing a 3D scan volume and texture of the faces and Alexandra from the data modeling and animation by Alex Mac Guff Line.


Elle is “a ‘virtual head’ of an Asian looking female in three dimensions, disturbing the viewer with its sole movement of blinking eyes and its subsequent revolutions showing the view of the ’empty’ rear of the head, its face then only a mask. In the sidebar to Elle artist Ikam describes her visual texts of this type as ‘protheses’ to access ‘new architectures of perception’ and claims that ‘In these works, the face is no longer a ‘record’ but a ‘process””.[1]

[1] pdf file:



Emoter is a large color photograph of a face with movable eye,lips and other part of the faces where the users can change their emotion by changing the different part of face.

“I started thinking about imagery and the face and how any kind of input into the face – no matter how irrational or unpatterned – would still create something we can decipher, look at, and read and get some sort of message from… Emoter uses the expressions of the face that are so cued into reading the face. I took a picture of myself and cut the features up into little pieces, like a puzzle, and rearranged the features. And each time I did it, I created a different emotion, and that’s just something I read into it….[…]” [1]

[1]: Edward A. Shanken, Art and Electronic Media, p.161

Them Fuckin’ Robots

“Fellow artist Laura Kikauka and I each built an electro-mechanical sex machine (hers, female; mine, male) without consulting each other on the particulars, apart from the dimensions of the engaging organs. We then brought these two machines together for a public performance. The male machine, the first and last anthropomorphic robot I’ve ever built, responds to the magnetic fields generated by the female organ, thereby increasing its rate of breathing and moving its limbs, simultaneously charging a capacitor to strobing “orgasm”. The female machine, on the other hand, is a diverse assemblage including a boiling kettle, a squirting oil pump, a twitching sewing machine treadle, and huge solenoid on a fur-covered board — all hanging from an old bedspring and energized by an electronic power sequencer.”[1]-Norman White

Detail of Male [img src:]


Essay Concerning Human Understanding

Documentation of “Essay Concerning Human Understanding” begins at about 2:00 minutes.


Eduardo Kac

“Essay Concerning Human Understanding” was a live, bi-directional, interactive, telematic, interspecies sonic installation I created with Ikuo Nakamura between Lexington (Kentucky), and New York. In this work, a canary dialogues over a regular phone line with a plant (Philodendron) 600 miles away.


Placed in the middle of the Center for Contemporary Art, the yellow canary was given a very large and comfortable cylindrical white cage, on top of which circuit-boards, a speaker, and a microphone were located. A clear Plexiglas disc separated the canary from this equipment, which was wired to the phone system. In New York, an electrode was placed on the plant’s leaf to sense its response to the singing of the bird. The microvoltage fluctuation of the plant was monitored through a Macintosh running a software called Interactive Brain-Wave Analyzer (IBVA). Ironically, a program designed to detect human mental activity was employed to inspect the vital activity of an organism generally understood as devoid of consciousness. The information coming from the plant was fed into another Macintosh running MAX, which controlled a MIDI sequencer. The electronic sounds themselves were pre-recorded, but the order and the duration were determined in real time by the plant’s response to the singing of the bird.


When this work was shown publicly, the bird and the plant interacted for several hours daily. Humans interacted with the bird and the plant as well. Just by standing next to the plant and the bird, humans immediately altered their behavior. When in close proximity, the interaction was further enhanced by the constantly changing behavior of the bird and the plant, which responded by singing more (bird), activating more sounds (plant), or by remaining quiet.

By enabling an isolated and caged animal to have a telematic conversation with a member of another species, this installation dramatized the role of communication and telecommunications in human lives. The inter-species communicative experience observed in the gallery reflects our own longing for interaction, our desire to reach out and stay in touch. This interactive installation is as much about creating art for non-humans as it is about human isolation and loneliness, and about the very possibility of communication. As this piece projects the complexities of electronically mediated human communication over non-human organisms, it surprisingly reveals aspects of our own communicative experience. This interaction is as dynamic and unpredictable as a human dialogue.ech2

Full essay copied from

Interactive Plant Growing


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“Interactive Plant Growing is an installation, which deals with the principle of the growth of virtual plant organisms and their change and modification in real time in the 3-dimensional virtual space of a computer. These modifications of predefined “artificially living plant organisms” are mainly based on the principle of development and evolution in time. The artificial growing of program – based plants is an expression of the desire to discover the principle of life, which is always defined by the transformations and morphogenesis of certain organisms.”[1]




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BodyScan (IN/OUT)

“In February 1997, Wohlgemuth had the surface of her body scanned and digitized. For the following eight years, she used that data to represent her body using a variety of digital outputs, including strings of numbers, wire frame and surface renderings, web-based VR, and 3-D objects generated via stereolithography. As a result, Wohlgemuth’s own body becomes a site of presentation, restoration and alteration. These multiple forms of her corporeal body constitute different portraits or avatars of the artist, each with its own identity, personality, and history, exemplifying the malleability of selfhood when the self consists of zeros and ones.” [1]

[1]: Edward A. Shanken, Art and Electronic Media (Phaidon, 2009)

Bodies© INCorporated


Bodies© INCorporated is a web site where the visitors can create thir own body as well as avatars in the open web space. By using the different web tools such as text or graphics standards the use can represent the 3D animation of their own body.

"Initially, the participant is invited to construct a virtual body out of predefined body-parts, textures, and sounds, and gain membership to the larger body-owner community. The main elements of the online site are three constructed environments (subsidiaries of Bodies INCorporated), within which different sets of activities occur" [2]



For more information about the Bodies© INCorporated website please visit