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RI Seminar


In my first formal opportunity to introduce myself and my enterprise to faculty and students in robotics, I will outline my interests and goals as associate professor of art and robotics, a joint position between the Department of Art and the Robotics Institute. I'll discuss the problematics and potentials of this radically interdisciplinary project: attempting to make art with robotic technologies and techniques. I'll briefly discuss my teaching practice in this area, my class Robotic Art Studio, as a way of elucidating some of these problematics.

The majority of the seminar will be spent in discussing my current autonomous robotic artwork Petit Mal, both technically and theoretically. Petit Mal, like most of my work, is a piece of self-reflexive technology. It is made of the technology which it seeks to speak about,that is, robotics in general.

Through the process of building robotic artworks I accrue a deeper understanding, not just of robotic technologies and techniques, but of the nature, function and aspirations of robotics as a discipline. Such projects also (implicitly and explicitly) question the nature of artistic practice.

It must be emphasized that complex interaction between people and (digital) machines is an historically novel phenomenon. The motivations for producing such a technology, and its potential cultural functions, are a relatively unexplored subject, philosophically and aesthtically. We have no ``aesthetics of interactivity.'' Through my art/research practice I realize models of possible modes of interaction which have cultural content.

In my presentation I will engage the issue of interactivity and the technological interface in terms of ``representation,'' in terms of the (generally implicit) body of knowledge which the user brings to an interface in order to be able to understand and use it. In particular I'm interested in Petit Mal as an experimental realization of an autonomous agent inhabiting real space, the way in which its ``meaning'' is formulated by the user/viewer in the process of interpreting its behavior.

I look forward to the exchange of ideas that might arise in discussion of these issues.

Christopher Lee | chrislee@ri.cmu.edu
Last modified: Tue Mar 28 10:33:07 1995