Blog archive, 06-2006 to 02-2007
Current blog

January 30th

While in Zürich I attended the launch of the second run of the Artists in Labs programme. Four labs and four artists are paired to develop a project over a period of 9 months. Working with the AI Lab of the University of Zürich, Choreographer Pablo Ventura will develop a Machine Choreography piece exposing respective specificities of motion in human and machines. Hina Strüver and Matthias Wüthrich submitted a project called Regrowing Eden in collaboration with the Geobotanical Institute, ETH Zurich.

January 29th

I visited Rolf Pfeifer's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in Zürich, where research is focusing on emergent intelligent behaviours from embodied robots.
I particularly enjoyed the whisker sensor developed by Simon Bovet, which consists of a real rat whisker mounted on a condenser microphone. One of his robots is called AMouse, based on a Khepera with 2 mobile clusters of 6 whiskers each.

January 27th

After trying for more than 2 years, I finally managed to light a fire using the primitive bow-drill technique of fire by friction.
It happened as part of the performance The Heart and the Chip in Gessnerallee, Zürich.

The breakthrough was greatly facilitated thanks to a book called Le feu avant les allumettes (fire before matches) that I bought in Le centre de préhistoire du Vercors.

December 11th

Very funny video of poor little Asimo falling down the stairs during a demo (via pink tentacle)

December 6th
A few pictures from Japan where I will stay until December 19th.
Akihabara DoCoMo lady
A small part of the Hoover counter in giant electrical goods shop, Akihabara
Beach on Naoshima island, near Benesse Contemporary art museum.

Expert tuna cutting at Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo.

Cleaning lady in Tokyo station.
Child trying Robot Tile, an interactive piece by Hiroo Iwata, Tokyo Digital Arts Festival, Panasonic Centre.
A member of the audience models Takayuki Okamoto's Vibrating Costume, Tokyo Digital Arts Festival, Panasonic Centre.

November 5th

Took down Sexed Robots and Smartbot from Lighthouse Gallery in Brighton, UK. See great drawings by visitors on Blip's website.

October 27th
Just landed from Frankfurt where I showed a lecture performance called Reflections and constructions of a button pusher.
The show included a world premiere of the full Robotic perception kit version 2, including prototype Robotic perception hands. More details soon.

Frankfurt crowd experiencing robotic perception

October 23rd
The Robotarium in Brighton opened at Lighthouse Gallery, 26 Kensington Street, with 2 Sexed robots and a Smartbot. Many children and parents attended. On until 4th November.

October 10th
I went to the Intensive Science symposium in Paris. I was curious to see A Robot's Playroom, an environment for Aibo robot dogs designed by the design students of ECAL. The students worked in close liaison with Frederic Kaplan, a scientist from the Sony Computer Science Lab in Paris who has worked extensively on the notion of curiousity driven robots, using the Aibo platform.

Kaplan showing a mirror for Aibo

I was slightly disappointed when I found out that the playroom was in fact several display windows with contraptions for the Aibos to wear/use (scooter, space suit, mirror, pen...), but no active Aibo in sight...
Until Kaplan demonstrated the drysuit, by dropping a robot in a pool with its pink ball.

I asked him about the issue of Aibos being discontinued, he said they had only 6 left in the lab, which explains why they are cautious about wear and tear.

October 2nd - Homo Futuris festival
Just back from Gent in Belgium where I showed Sexed Robots. In the festival was programmed Technocalyps, a documentary by Frank Theys focusing on recent trends in transhumanism, with interviews of the usual suspects (Moravec, Kurzweil...) and lesser known visionaries. The film, although giving too much room to middle age male white American scientists, balances the science, ethics and techno-fundamentalism in a well constructed way.

Also in the festival, Compass by Lawrence Malstaff, a slightly frightening wearable machine designed to guide its user by avoiding magnetic fields.

Julie Andrée T. wearing Compass

September 20th
2 weeks ago I saw Stelarc live from Australia in the DRHA conference that took place in Dartington, UK. It is always instructive to get news about what the pioneer of cyborg artists is up to. He told us about the adventures of his third ear. Stelarc had a bag inserted in his left arm, which he injected everyday with a small dose of silicon. After two months, the swell was big enough for the next step: removal of the bag and insertion of the collagen shape, base for the 3rd ear, coming complete with a microphone.

Unfortunately the microphone generated an infection, and had to be removed. The whole process is now pushed back by at least three months, time for Stelarc's arm to recover. The final result will be an ear on his arm (see photo with fake ear and restrainer), that he says will be used, for example, as the microphone of a telephone, with a blue tooth connection. Speaking of tooth, the speaker of the system will be located in a gap between teeth in Stelarc's mouth.....

September 10th
Dorkbot London Burning dork camp
Just back from a cool weekend in the woods near Dorking. We burned a large dork.

August 17th - 2 stories about fake breasts and war
Bras of terror
Saved by implants

August 15th - Robo-One special IVth
From Robot Watch Japan, report about the biped robots contest Robo-One, where (among other activities) autonomous bipeds negociate a tricky circuit. Video of Eagle in action shows hobbyist bipeds are getting somewhere.
I used Babel Fish for Japanese to English translation, not great but it helps.

July 23rd - Liveartwork DVD
I received issue 3 of the Liveartwork DVD, which contains a documentation of my performance The heart and the chip shot in Berlin in April 2006. Liveartwork is a quartely publication dedicated to performance art. Each issue features performances by artists of various nationalities and backgrounds.

The Liveartworks DVDs are available online for the bargain price of €10 including international postage.

July 22nd - Japan robots
Just discovered a site called Robot watch. It is in japanese, but you can see pics and videos of what is going on in many fairs, labs and toy manufacturers. "Future is now" feeling almost guaranteed.

July 1st - new museum
I attended the opening of MUDAM (Musée d'art moderne du grand duc Jean) in Luxemburg.

Hosted in an impressive architecture by I.M. Pei, MUDAM's first exhibition is called Eldorado, with works from MUDAM's collection.
I particularly enjoyed Mark Lewis' films and Wim Delvoye's chapel, without forgetting to mention the very welcoming team and help yourself Luxemburgese bier on tap outside the spanking new building, in a gorgeous sun.
Good luck to MUDAM.