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Crlglnally appeared ln Art Iourna|, vol. 36, n. 3, ulglLal 8eflecLlons: 1he ulalogue of ArL and 1echnology, Speclal
lssue on LlecLronlc ArL, !ohanna urucker, (ed.), CAA, n?, 1997, pp. 60-67. 8epubllshed
ln orLuguese ln: Cadernos da s-Graduao do Inst|tuto de Artes da Un|camp, Ano 2, vol. 2, n. 2, 1998, pp.
18-28. 8epubllshed (abrldged, ln Lngllsh and Spanlsh) ln, n 4, !uly/AugusL 2004, Madrld, pp. 30-33.
8epubllshed ln Lngllsh and korean ln nam !une alk 8eader #2, uecember 2011, korea, pp. 139-163.

Lduardo kac (1997)

As elecLronlc medla becomes more pervaslve ln Loday's culLure, Lhe role of roboLlcs ln
conLemporary arL, along wlLh vldeo, mulLlmedla, performance, LelecommunlcaLlons, and
lnLeracLlve lnsLallaLlons, needs Lo be consldered. ln Lhls arLlcle l propose Lo deflne a
framework for Lhe undersLandlng and analysls of roboLlc arL. l wlll dlscuss Lhree plvoLal arL
works from Lhe 1960s LhaL ouLllned Lhe genesls of roboLlcs ln arL and LhaL formed Lhe basls of
Lhe Lhree maln dlrecLlons ln whlch roboLlc arL has developed. 1hls arLlcle wlll also elucldaLe
Lhe new lssues ralsed by currenL roboLlc arLworks and clarlfy Lhelr relaLlonshlp Lo Lhe maln
paLhs deflned by Lhose Lhree early works.

Cne of Lhe mosL problemaLlc lssues of roboLlcs ln arL ls Lhe very deflnlLlon of whaL a roboL ls.
CompllcaLlng maLLers, on Lhe one hand, we have myLhologlcal LradlLlons of varlous culLures.
1hese LradlLlons have orlglnaLed fanLasLlc synLheLlc creaLures, such as Lhe anclenL Creek sLory
of CalaLea [1] --a sLaLue broughL Lo llfe by Lhe goddess AphrodlLe -- or Lhe !ewlsh legend of
Lhe Colem, a speechless anLhropold made of clay by humans [2]. Cn Lhe oLher hand, we flnd
more recenL llLerary LradlLlons offerlng flcLlonal proflles of auLomaLa, roboLs, cyborgs,
androlds, LeleroboLs, and repllcanLs. lnLrlgulng llLerary arLlflclal belngs have exclLed Lhe
lmaglnaLlon of readers worldwlde: Mary Shelley's lrankensLeln (1818), vllllers de l'lsle-
Adam's "luLure Lve" (1886), CusLav Meyrlnk's verslon of LheColem (1913), karel Capek's
roboLs ln Lhe play 8.u.8. (whlch lnLroduced ln 1922 Lhe world Lo Lhe Czech word "roboL"),
8oberL Pelnleln's Waldo (1940), lsaac Aslmov's CuLle (1941) -- Lo name a few [3]. 1he llLerary
roboLlc canon ls furLher expanded by Lhe presence of roboLs ln fllm: lrlLz Lang's MeLropolls
(1926), lred Wllcox's lorbldden laneL (1936), Ceorge Lucas' SLar Wars (1977) 8ldley ScoLL's
8lade 8unner (1982). 1elevlslon conLrlbuLed Lo furLher popularlze Lhe lmage of Lhe compuLlng
companlon (lrwln Allen's LosL ln Space, 1963 ), Lhe cyborg (Parve 8enneLL's 1he Slx Mllllon
uollar Man, 1974 ), Lhe sophlsLlcaLed androld and Lhe evll mlxLure of flesh and elecLronlcs
(currenL verslon of Cene 8odenberry's SLar 1rek, 1966).

AnoLher aspecL of Lhe problem ls Lhe operaLlonal deflnlLlon of roboLs as found ln sclenLlflc
research and lndusLrlal appllcaLlons. 1he flrsL commerclal roboLs appeared ln Lhe early '60s ln
Lhe unlLed SLaLes, and ln abouL LwenLy years developed a sLronghold ln lndusLrlal faclllLles
around Lhe world [4]. 1hese reprogrammable manlpulaLors easlly handled Llreless repeLlLlve
Lasks. 1hey lncreased producLlvlLy and prompLed furLher research almed aL lmprovlng Lhelr
efflclency ln manufacLurlng planLs. lndusLrlal roboLs are programmed Lo perform a speclflc
Lask, or seL of Lasks. lL ls clear LhaL from Lhls perspecLlve roboLs are advanced compuLer-
conLrolled elecLromechanlcal appllances.

lf arLlsLs worklng wlLh or lnLeresLed ln roboLlcs cannoL lgnore myLhologlcal, llLerary, or
lndusLrlal deflnlLlons of roboLs and arLlflclal llfe forms, lL ls also Lrue LhaL Lhese deflnlLlons do
noL dlrecLly apply Lo any glven roboLlc arL work [3]. Lach arLlsL explores roboLlcs ln parLlcular
ways, developlng sLraLegles LhaL ofLen hybrldlze roboLs wlLh oLher medla, sysLems, conLexLs,
and llfe forms.

As arLlsLs conLlnue Lo push Lhe very llmlLs of arL, LradlLlonally deflned by dlscreLe and lnerL
hand-made ob[ecLs, Lhey lnLroduce roboLlcs as a new medlum aL Lhe same Llme LhaL Lhey
challenge our undersLandlng of roboLs -- quesLlonlng Lherefore our premlses ln concelvlng,
bulldlng, and employlng Lhese elecLronlc creaLures. 1he fasclnaLlon roboLs exerL on Lhe
populaLlon aL large has unexplored soclal, pollLlcal, and emoLlonal lmpllcaLlons. 1hese
lmpllcaLlons musL be coupled, lf Lhey are Lo be properly undersLood ln Lhe conLemporary arL
conLexL, wlLh Lhe new aesLheLlc dlmenslon of modellng behavlor (Lhe arLlsL creaLes noL only
form buL Lhe acLlons and reacLlons of Lhe roboL ln response Lo exLernal or lnLernal sLlmull)
and developlng unprecedenLed lnLeracLlve communlcaLlve scenarlos ln physlcal or LelemaLlc
spaces (Lhe ob[ecL "percelves" Lhe vlewer and Lhe envlronmenL).

1he works hlghllghLed ln Lhls arLlcle ofLen evade any narrow deflnlLlon of roboLlcs -- excepL,
perhaps, for Lhe prlnclple of glvlng precedence Lo behavlor over form. SLlcklng Lo a narrow
deflnlLlon seems less lmporLanL Lhan Lhe opporLunlLy Lo Lrace parallels beLween sLraLegles
LhaL foreground aL Llmes elecLronlc creaLures ("roboLlc arL"), and aL Llmes a comblnaLlon of
organlc and elecLronlc ("cyberneLlc arL") or Lhe remoLe pro[ecLlon of a human sub[ecL onLo a
LeleroboL ("Lelepresence arL"). noL only Lhese arL forms seem dlrecLly relaLed concepLually,
buL Lhey also appear hybrldlzed ln several works.

Whlle proLoLypes of non-commerclal roboLs were developed ln Lhe flfLles, noLably for
enLerLalnmenL and sclenLlflc research [6], lL ls noL unLll Lhe slxLles LhaL we see Lhe flrsL roboLlc
arL works. As developed ln Lhe '30s and '60s, klneLlc arL conLrlbuLed Lo free sculpLure from
sLaLlc form and relnLroduced Lhe machlne aL Lhe hearL of Lhe arLlsLlc debaLe [7]. arLlcularly
slgnlflcanL ln Lhls conLexL ls nlcolas Schffer's C?S 1 (CyberneLlc SpaLlodynamlc SculpLure),
from 1936 [8]. 1hls ploneerlng lnLeracLlve work, flxed Lo a base and bullL wlLh sensors and
analogue elecLronlc componenLs, produced dlfferenL klnds of movemenLs ln response Lo Lhe
presence of observers. As lL passed from Lhe elecLro-mechanlcal domaln Lo Lhe elecLronlc
realm, Schffer's work provlded a brldge beLween klneLlcs and roboLlcs. 1he LranslLlonal
characLer of Lhls work was well documenLed ln Lhe 1939 Lelevlslon program enLlLled
"8obocyberneLlque" ("8obocyberneLlcs"), LransmlLLed llve from Schffer's SLudlo ln arls.
lnfluenced by Lhls conLexL, and already openlng up new dlrecLlons LhaL prlvlleged complex
lnLeracLlve and behavloral concerns, Lhree arLworks creaLed ln Lhe mld and laLe slxLles sLand
as landmarks ln Lhe developmenL of roboLlc arL: nam !une alk and Shuya Abe's 8oboL k-436
(1964), 1om Shannon's SquaL (1966), and Ldward lhnaLowlcz's 1he SensLer (1969-1970).
Whlle Lhese works are very slgnlflcanL ln Lhelr own rlghL, Lhey acqulre a parLlcular meanlng
when re-consldered Loday, slnce seen LogeLher Lhey also conflgure a Lrlangle of new aesLheLlc
lssues LhaL has conLlnually lnformed Lhe maln dlrecLlons ln roboLlc arL. WlLh alk and Abe's
8oboL k-436 , a humorous and pollLlcally-charged plece, Lhe problems of remoLe conLrol, free-
moblllLy and lnLeracLlon wlLh Lhe publlc are lnLroduced. WlLh Shannon's SquaL we see Lhe flrsL
lnLeracLlve arLwork LhaL ls an organlc and lnorganlc hybrld, ralslng Lhe quesLlon of cyberneLlc
enLlLles so relevanL Lo currenL debaLes. ln lhnaLowlcz's 1he SensLer, also an lnLeracLlve plece,
we flnd Lhe flrsL lnsLance of behavloral auLonomy ln arL, ln whlch a glven personallLy ls
asslgned Lo Lhe roboL, whlch Lhen responds Lo humans and changlng slLuaLlons on lLs own.

named afLer MozarL's plano concerLo (kchel's number 436), alk and Abe's 20-channel
remoLe-conLrolled anLhropomorphlc roboL flrsL performed ln a prlvaLe space (8oboL Cpera, aL
!udson Pall, ln collaboraLlon wlLh CharloLLe Moorman) and on Lhe sLreeLs, boLh as parL of Lhe
Second Annual new ?ork AvanL-Carde lesLlval, ln 1964. As alk gulded lL Lhrough Lhe sLreeLs,
k-436 played Lhrough lLs mouLh (a radlo speaker) a recordlng of !ohn l. kennedy's lnaugural
address and excreLed beans. Cn vldeo we can clearly see Lhe wondrous dynamlsm of Lhe
roboL's eyes (Loy alrplane propellers), of lLs legs dragglng forward, and of lLs Lwlrllng
SLyrofoam breasLs [9]. alk approaches roboLlc arL wlLh a pecullar sense of humor, flndlng ln
Lhese creaLures a carlcaLure of humanlLy, noL a cause of fear (of losL [obs, of erased ldenLlLy).
8eflecLlng on Lhe role of roboLlcs ln Lhe economy, and Lhe dlfferences beLween roboLlcs ln arL
and lndusLry, he sLaLed: "now, my roboL ... generally people say LhaL roboLs are creaLed Lo
decrease people's work ... buL my roboL ls Lhere Lo lncrease Lhe work for people because we
need flve people Lo make lL move for Len mlnuLes, you see. Pa ha." [10]

k-436, whlch ls now ln Lhe Pauser and WlrLh prlvaLe collecLlon, ln Zurlch, was reacLlvaLed
once agaln ln 1982, when Lhe WhlLney Museum of Amerlcan ArL hosLed alk's reLrospecLlve
exhlblLlon. Cn Lhe occaslon, Lhe arLlsL sLaged an accldenL ln whlch Lhe 8oboL k-436 was hlL by
a car. lor Lhls performance, LlLled "1he llrsL CaLasLrophe of Lhe 1wenLy-llrsL CenLury", k-436
was removed from lLs Museum pedesLal and gulded by Lhe arLlsL down Lhe sLreeL Lo Lhe
lnLersecLlon of 73Lh SLreeL and Madlson Avenue. When crosslng Lhe avenue, Lhe roboL was
"accldenLally" hlL by an auLomoblle drlven by arLlsL 8lll AnasLasl. WlLh Lhls performance alk
suggesLed Lhe poLenLlal problems LhaL arlse when Lechnologles colllde ouL of human conLrol.
AfLer Lhe "colllslon", k-436 was reLurned Lo lLs pedesLal ln Lhe Museum [11].

Less LraumaLlc ls Lhe klnd of conLacL enabled by 1om Shannon's work. CreaLed only Lwo years
laLer, Shannon's SquaL was a cyberneLlc sysLem wlrlng a llve planL Lo a roboLlc sculpLure [12].
ln Lhls early form of cyberneLlc lnLeracLlve arL, Shannon enabled Lhe elecLrlc poLenLlal of Lhe
human body Lo Lrlgger an organlc swlLch. When vlewers Louched Lhe planL, Lhe elecLrlclLy was
ampllfled and Lurned on Lhe moLors of Lhe roboLlc sculpLure, whlch Lhen moved. Cn human-
planL conLacL, SquaL reLracLed and exLended lLs Lhree legs as well as lLs Lwo arms, creaLlng
undulaLlng moLlon and hummlng and chlrplng sounds. lf Lhe vlewer Louched Lhe planL agaln,
Lhe plece reLurned Lo lLs resLlng sLaLe.

Whlle LacLlle parLlclpaLlon ls cruclal Lo SquaL, ln lhnaLowlcz's work lL ls Lhe volce and Lhe
proxlmlLy of vlewers LhaL prompL responslve behavlor. Worklng ln relaLlve lsolaLlon ln
Lngland, afLer lmmlgraLlng from hls naLlve oland and sLudylng aL Lhe 8uskln School of
urawlng and llne ArL aL Cxford, Ldward lhnaLowlcz (1926-1988), perhaps Lhe leasL known of
Lhe Lhree ploneers, creaLed beLween 1969 and 19701he SensLer, a blomorphlc compuLer-
conLrolled roboLlc creaLure wlLh shy behavlor [13]. 1hls plece was shown aL hlllps'
permanenL showplace Lvoluon, ln Pelndhoven, Polland, from 1970 Lo 1974, when lL was
dlsmanLled. 8ullL afLer Lhe arLlculaLlon of a lobsLer's claw, 1he SensLer was abouL 13 feeL long
by 8 feeL hlgh and occupled a space of 1,000 cublc feeL. lLs head had senslLlve mlcrophones
and moLlon-deLecLors, provldlng sensorlal lnpuL LhaL was processed by a dlglLal hlllps
mlnlcompuLer ln real Llme. 1he SensLer's upper body conslsLed of slx lndependenL elecLro-
hydraullc servo-mechanlsms wlLh slx degrees of freedom. 8espondlng Lo moLlons and sounds
wlLhln one or Lwo seconds, 1he SensLer genLly moved lLs head Lowards quleLer and more
subLle vlewers. Loud and aglLaLed vlewers saw Lhe creaLure shy away and proLecL lLself from
any harm. ln lLs sensual, and apparenLly lnLelllgenL behavlor, Lhe plece was very engaglng Lo a
wlde audlence. Whlle Lhe debaLe on Lhe use of compuLers ln arL aL Lhe Llme revolved around
Lhe creaLlon of sLlll or sequenLlal lmages, and Lhe use of sLaLlc or moblle ploLLers Lo produce
such lmages, lhnaLowlcz merged sofLware-based parameLrlc behavlor wlLh hardware
presence ln a real space as he lnLroduced Lhe flrsL compuLer-conLrolled roboLlc arLwork. ln
oLher words, "1he SensLer" ls Lhe flrsL physlcal work whose expresslon ln space (lLs cholces,
reacLlons, and movemenLs) ls Lrlggered by daLa processlng (lnsLead of sculpLural concerns).

lurLher conLrlbuLlng Lo Lhls nascenL fleld, norman WhlLe creaLed Menage (Pousehold, or
lamlly), ln 1974, an lnsLallaLlon wlLh flve llghL-scannlng roboLs. 1hls lnsLallaLlon was
comprlsed of four roboLs movlng back and forLh along separaLe celllng Lracks and a flfLh roboL
poslLloned on Lhe floor. Lach creaLure had a scanner (whlch polnLed lLself Loward sLrong llghL-
sources) and a spoLllghL mounLed aL lLs cenLer. As a resulL of Lhe cenLral poslLlon of Lhelr own
llghL source, Lhe celllng roboLs had Lhe Lendency Lo keep sLarlng aL one anoLher. Powever,
desplLe Lhe apparenL slmpllclLy of Lhls arrangemenL, a more dynamlc behavlor emerged once
Lhelr moLors pulled Lhem aparL and Lhe gaze-locklng lnLerplay resumed. lf ln Lhe Lhree
ploneerlng works seen above Lhe arLlsLs worked wlLh lndlvldual roboLs, WhlLe Lrled Lo creaLe
a small roboLlc communlLy LhaL would already exhlblL collecLlve behavlor. lf alk's, Shannon's,
and lhnaLowlcz's conLrlbuLlon Lo roboLlc arL can be sald Lo be clrcumscrlbed Lo Lhe pleces
dlscussed above, WhlLe ls Lhe flrsL arLlsL Lo have conslsLenLly champloned roboLlcs as an arL
form LhroughouL Lhe years [14], produclng a number of dlfferenL and lnLrlgulng pleces, mosL
noLably Pelpless 8oboL, a roboL orlglnally made ln 1983 LhaL converses wlLh vlewers and
requesLs Lhelr asslsLance Lo spln lL, changlng lLs behavlor ln Llme lf lL geLs more or less help.
norman WhlLe conslders Lhe Pelpless 8oboL unflnlshed (posslbly unflnlshable), and slnce
1983 he has modlfled lL many Llmes. Pelpless 8oboL was shown publlcly for Lhe flrsL Llme ln
1988. ln lLs currenL sLaLe (1997), lL ls conLrolled by Lwo cooperaLlng compuLers, boLh
programmed by WhlLe. Cne compuLer ls responslble for Lracklng Lhe angular poslLlon of Lhe
roLaLlng secLlon, and deLecLlng human presence wlLh an array of lnfrared moLlon deLecLors.
1he oLher compuLer analyzes Lhls lnformaLlon ln relaLlon Lo pasL evenLs, and generaLes an
approprlaLe speech response. 1hls work humorously reverses Lhe polarlLy of roboL-human
relaLlonshlps, asklng humans Lo help an elecLronlc creaLure convenLlonally deslgned Lo be a
human ald.

Also worklng wlLh sensors and mlcroconLrollers (l.e., embedded dlglLal conLrollers) [13] ln
lnLeracLlve slLuaLlons ls !ames SeawrlghL -- known for responslve klneLlc sculpLures [16] such
as WaLcher (1963-66) and Searcher (1966), and for early lnLeracLlve lnsLallaLlons (whlch he
Lermed "reacLlve envlronmenLs") such as LlecLronlc erlsLyle (1968) and neLwork lll (1970).
1he laLLer musL be hlghllLed as a ploneerlng lnLeracLlve compuLer lnsLallaLlon, ln whlch a
dlglLal mlnlcompuLer (u 8-L) LranslaLed Lhe movemenL of vlewers over pressure-senslLlve
plaLes lnLo flashlng llghL paLLerns on Lhe celllng. ln Lhe '80s SeawrlghL developed compuLer-
conLrolled roboLlc works ln whlch Lhe sofLware-based comporLmenL of Lhe plece seems Lo
achleve a sophlsLlcaLed level of behavlor as lL lnLeracLs wlLh Lhe envlronmenL and Lhe publlc.
Pls LlecLronlc Carden #2 (1983) ls comprlsed of flve compuLer-conLrolled roboLlc flowers.
8espondlng Lo cllmaLe parameLers, such as LemperaLure and humldlLy, Lhese elecLronlc
flowers were orlglnally lnsLalled ln a publlc space as an lndoor garden. vlewers could also
alLer Lhelr behavlor by pushlng buLLons LhaL modlfled Lhe program lnsLalled ln Lhe cusLom-
bullL mlcroprocessor. 1hese elecLronlc flowers suggesL Lhe posslblllLy of a harmonlous
lnLegraLlon beLween humans, naLure and Lechnology, aL Lhe same Llme LhaL Lhey poeLlclze
responslve elecLronlcs ln analogy wlLh ornamenLal planLs. 1aklng Lhls concepL furLher,
SeawrlghL creaLed ln 1984 Pouse lanLs, Lwo compuLer-conLrolled roboLlc flowers [17]. Pouse
lanLs used a compuLer (a cusLom-bullL mlcroprocessor) Lo glve Lhe elecLronlc planLs Lhelr
envlronmenLally-responslve behavlor. Whlle Lhe Laller planL opened lLs four peLals aL nlghL
reacLlng Lo changlng llghL levels, Lhe shorLer, domed planL produced a pecullar sound paLLern
as small dlsks opened and closed. 8oLh planLs dlsplayed dynamlc bllnklng llghL paLLerns: Lhe
Laller one on Lhe lnslde of Lhe peLals (made vlslble when opened), and Lhe shorLer one on Lhe
surface of lLs spherlcal Lop. lf placed ln a gallery seLLlng, boLh planLs were programmed Lo
exhlblL Lhelr behavlor slmulLaneously. CyberneLlc boLany ls a Lheme LhaL has been explored
by Lhe arLlsL ln mulLlple pleces and ln dlfferenL verslons of slngle pleces.

WlLh lLs emphasls on behavlor, lL was only a maLLer of Llme for roboLlc arL Lo expand lLs realm
of posslblllLles lnLo LheaLrlcal and performaLlve evenLs. 1wo of Lhe mosL promlnenL arLlsLs of
Lhe generaLlon LhaL emerged ln Lhe '70s who work wlLh roboLlcs are Mark aullne and SLelarc.
ln 1980 aullne founded Lhe Survlval 8esearch LaboraLorles, or S8L, a collaboraLlve Leam LhaL
slnce Lhen has creaLed mulLlple-machlne performances comblnlng muslc, exploslves, radlo-
conLrolled mechanlsms, vlolenL and desLrucLlve acLlon, flre, llqulds, anlmal parLs, and organlc
maLerlals [18]. 1wo of Lhe early key collaboraLors were MaLLhew PeckerL and Lrlc Werner.
Slnce 1980 S8L developed machlnes and roboLs and sLaged performances ln Lurope and Lhe
uS, all Loo numerous and varled Lo be fully covered here. 1hese works are marked by vlsceral
vlolence and enLroplc choreography, ofLen culmlnaLlng ln a caLharLlc self-desLrucLlve
exLravaganza. 1hese roboLlc specLacles of dlscomforL, fear, and acLual desLrucLlon are meanL
as commenLarles on soclal lssues, parLlcularly ln regard Lo ldeologlcal conLrol, abuse of force,
and Lechnologlcal domlnaLlon. ln 1981, for example, aullne mechanlcally anlmaLed dead
anlmals, evoklng lrankensLelnlan fears and suggesLlng Lhe larger-Lhan-human powers of
Lechnology. 8aboL, for example, was produced by grafLlng a mechanlcal exoskeleLon Lo Lhe
enLlre body of a dead rabblL, causlng lL Lo walk backwards. 1hese and many oLher large and
powerful machlnes, anlmal-machlne hybrlds, and roboLlc or compuLer-conLrolled devlces
have anlmaLed S8L's loud and ofLen conLroverslal pyroLechnlc evenLs, such as "Crlme Wave",
reallzed on november of 1993 ln San lranclsco, or more recenLly, "1he unexpecLed
uesLrucLlon of LlaboraLely Lnglneered ArLlfacLs", reallzed on March of 1997 ln AusLln, 1exas.
More Lhan flfLeen years laLer, alk's 1982 sLaged accldenL can be reconsldered ln Lhe conLexL
of S8L's work, whlch glves emphasls Lo Lhe aesLheLlc prlnclple of Lechnologles collldlng ouL of
human conLrol.

8y conLrasL, SLelarc has focused hls work on hls own body. Pe aLLached a Lhlrd (roboLlc) arm
Lo hls rlghL arm, only Lo expand hls suspenslon evenLs [19] lnLo complex performances LhaL
have evolved cyborg and posL-human meLaphors, ralslng Lhe lssue of evoluLlon and
adapLaLlon ln our hlghly Lechnologlcal envlronmenL [20]. 1he 1hlrd Pand, a flve-flnger roboLlc
hand acLlvaLed by abdomlnal and leg muscles, was bullL ln 1981 wlLh Lhe asslsLance of lmasen
uenkl, and based on a proLoLype by lchlro kaLo. Among SLelarc's flrsL roboLlc performances ln
1981 were 1he 1hlrd Pand (1amura Callery, 1okyo) and ueca-uance (komal Callery, 1okyo).
ln 1he 1hlrd Pand performance, Lhe arLlsL held a sheeL of paper wlLh hls lefL hand and
explored Lhe posslblllLy of wrlLlng 1PL 1Pl8u PAnu slmulLaneously wlLh hls rlghL hand and hls
Lhlrd hand. ln ueca-uance, he experlmenLed wlLh human and roboLlc choreographlc gesLures.
Slnce 1981 SLelarc has been creaLlng ampllfled body performances ln whlch he expands Lhe
power and reach of Lhe human body by wlrlng lL Lo elecLronlc devlces and
LelecommunlcaLlons sysLems. ln Lhese performances he has comblned Lhe 1hlrd Pand wlLh
many oLher Lechnologlcal componenLs, lncludlng senslng devlces convenLlonally used ln
medlclne. Cn occaslon SLelarc has also performed ln Lhe company of lndusLrlal roboLlc arms.
More recenLly he has also used prosLheLlc Lechnologles LhaL physlcally wlre hls body and
enable remoLe and dlrecL muscle sLlmulaLlon, whlch resulL ln lnvolunLary gesLures and body
moLlons unconLrollable by Lhe arLlsL.

SLelarc ls among Lhe arLlsLs LhaL don'L clrcumscrlbe Lhe experlence of Lhe work Lo one's
lmmedlaLe percepLual fleld. 1he absence of Lhe ob[ecL sLlmulaLes a parLlcular klnd of
experlence: lL helghLens awareness of Lhe remoLe ln deLrlmenL Lo local vlslon. 8emoLeness
creaLes a new slLuaLlon for performance, roboLlcs, and lnLeracLlve arL, one LhaL could be
called "drama of dlsLance". As a consequence of my own deslre Lo push LelecommunlcaLlons
arL lnLo a more physlcal domaln, slnce Lhe 1980s l have been developlng whaL l call
Lelepresence arL, coupllng roboLlcs and LelecommunlcaLlons lnLo new forms of
communlcaLlve experlences LhaL enable parLlclpanLs Lo pro[ecL Lhelr presence lnLo a
geographlcally dlsLanL place. CLher arLlsLs have pursued Lhls baslc premlse wlLh very engaglng

ln 1993 Lhe AusLrlan group x-Space (Cerfrled SLocker and PorsL PrLner, wlLh Arnold luchs,
AnLon Malerhofer, Wolfgang 8elnlsch and !uLLa Schmlederer) creaLed Lhe lnLeracLlve roboLlc
lnsLallaLlon "Wlnke Wlnke" [21], flrsL shown on Lop of Lhe only skyscraper ln Craz, on Lhe
bulldlng of AusLrlan 1elecommunlcaLlon (osLhochhaus ln Craz). 1hls pro[ecL made reference
Lo one of Lhe earllesL forms of LelecommunlcaLlons neLwork: Lhe opLlcal Lelegraph (1794),
precursor Lo Lhe elecLrlc Lelegraph. ln a gallery or oLher publlc space, Lhe parLlclpanL
approached a compuLer Lermlnal connecLed Lo a roboL placed on Lhe roof of Lhe bulldlng.
Lach message Lyped on Lhe Lermlnal ls LranslaLed by Lhe roboL lnLo slgns of Lhe lnLernaLlonal
marlne semaphore sysLem: Lhe roboL acLually produces Lhese slgns by movlng Lhe flags
aLLached Lo lLs arms. Cn Lhe roof of anoLher locaLlon, ln sLralghL llne of slghL wlLh Lhe roboL, a
vldeo camera wlLh a LelephoLo lens recorded Lhe slgns made by Wlnke Wlnke. 1he plcLures
were fed lnLo a compuLer, whlch read Lhe poslLlon of Lhe flags and converLs Lhe slgns back
lnLo words. ulglLal LelecommunlcaLlons comes full clrcle wlLh Lhe opLlcal Lelegraph, suggesLlng
new beglnnlngs. 1he expresslon "wlnke wlnke" ls AusLrlan baby-language for "bye-bye".

ln 1993, ken Coldberg, !oseph SanLarromana, Ceorge 8ekey, SLeven CenLner, 8osemary
Morrls, Carl SuLLer, and !eff Wlegley, collaboraLed Lo creaLe Lhe 1eleCarden, a Web
Lelepresence lnsLallaLlon [22]. 1he 1eleCarden enabled anyone on Lhe Web Lo planL and
waLer seeds ln a real llvlng garden uslng an lndusLrlal roboL arm. 1hls garden, 6' ln dlameLer,
soon fllled wlLh marlgolds, peppers, and peLunlas. arLlclpanLs, who became 'members' of
Lhls vlrLual cooperaLlve, could also planL seeds, waLer and dlscuss coop pollcy vla an onllne
chaL sysLem. 1he pro[ecL explored Lhe evoluLlon of communlLy on Lhe Web, ln parLlcular Lhe
analogy wlLh Lhe Agrarlan revoluLlon whlch esLabllshed Lhe condlLlons for culLural

Also ln 1993, nlna Sobell and Lmlly ParLzell, worklng ln collaboraLlon wlLh new ?ork
unlverslLy CenLer for Advanced 1echnology englneers and compuLer sclenLlsLs, creaLed Allce
SaL Pere. ln Lhls plece, a camera-equlpped wheelchalr was sLeered by local and remoLe
parLlclpanLs, wlLh sequenLlal uploads Lo Lhe Web [23]. Sobell and ParLzell worked wlLh new
?ork unlverslLy englneer and compuLer sclenLlsLs Lo creaLe Lhls Lelepresence lnsLallaLlon,
orlglnally shown aL 8lcco/Maresca Callery, new ?ork. Whlle local parLlclpanLs were able Lo slL
on and sLeer Allce's 1hrone (Lhe wheelchalr), remoLe vlslLors could conLrol camera dlrecLlon.
A monlLor ln Lhe gallery's fronL wlndow showed real-Llme vldeo from Lhe polnL of vlew of Lhe
wheelchalr-mounLed wlreless camera, whlch was Lhen dlsplayed as sequenLlal sLllls on Lhe
Web. 1ouchpads ln Lhe fronL wlndow surrounded Lhe monlLor. arLlclpanLs presslng Lhe
Louchpads were caughL ln Lhe acL of conLrolllng Lhe Lhrone's camera: Lhelr lmages were
capLured by Lhe small camera mounLed aLop Lhe monlLor. 1he Lhrone lLself was noL conLrolled
remoLely, buL by people acLually drlvlng lL around. 1he small camera mounLed on Lop of Lhe
monlLor overlapped Lhe sLreeL parLlclpanL's lmage wlLh Lhe lmage capLured from Lhe polnL of
vlew of Lhe wheelchalr-mounLed camera prlor Lo Lhe Web upload. 1hls plece Louched on Lhe
mulLlple levels of conLrol (of observaLlon, navlgaLlon, and lmage capLure) as parLlclpanLs
osclllaLed beLween physlcal space and cyberspace.

lf on Lhe one hand Lelepresence arL places human cognlLlve processes on remoLe roboLlc
bodles, on Lhe oLher we flnd arLlsLs LhaL sLlll pursue lssues of auLonomy of Lhe roboLlc body ln
space. Slmon enny, for example, creaLed ln 1996 hls auLonomous roboL eLlL Mal. 1he LlLle
of Lhls plece ls a medlcal Lerm LhaL refers Lo a momenLary loss of consclousness. llrsL
deslgned ln 1989, eLlL Mal begun Lo be bullL ln 1993 [24]. As an auLonomous roboLlc arLwork
lL explores archlLecLural space and pursues and reacLs Lo people. lLs behavlor ls nelLher
anLhropomorphlc nor zoomorphlc, buL ls unlque Lo lLs elecLronlc naLure. lL has Lhree
ulLrasonlc sensors and Lhree body-heaL sensors LhaL allow lL Lo reallze Lhe presence of
humans near lL. eLlL Mal was deslgned Lo be llghLwelghL, durable and mechanlcally efflclenL,
whlch gave lL a "laboraLory proLoLype" physlognomy. 8y coverlng parLs of Lhe roboL's body
wlLh domesLlc prlnLed vlnyl LablecloLh, Lhe arLlsL lnLended Lo change lLs appearance. eLlL Mal
conslsLs of a palr of blcycle wheels LhaL supporL a palr of pendulums suspended on a slngle
axls. 1he Lop pendulum nesLs a processor, sensors and loglc power supply. 1he boLLom
pendulum houses moLors and moLor power supply. 1he lnner pendulum keeps Lhe sensors ln
a verLlcal poslLlon desplLe Lhe swlng LhaL resulLs from acceleraLlon. eLlL Mal funcLlons
auLonomously ln a publlc envlronmenL for many hours before baLLery replacemenL ls needed.

1he works ouLllned here suggesL LhaL aL Lhe same Llme LhaL roboLlcs has maLured lnLo an arL
form, slnce lLs flrsL lnLroducLlon ln Lhe 1960s, lL has been qulckly approprlaLed and
lncorporaLed lnLo oLher forms, such as performance, lnsLallaLlon, dance, earLhworks, LheaLer,
and Lelepresence pleces. 1oday arLlsLs such as MargoL AposLolos, 1ed krueger, ken 8lnaldo,
Chlco MacMurLrle, Marcel.ll AnLunez 8oca, MarLln Span[aard, ulrlke Cabrlel, Louls-hlllppe
uemers and 8lll vorn, among many oLhers, are developlng a complex and fasclnaLlng body of
work ln roboLlc arL, pushlng lL lnLo new dlrecLlons [23]. 8emoLe conLrol, cyberneLlc enLlLles,
and auLhonomous behavlor, as flrsL ouLllned by alk, Shannon, and lhnaLowlcz, deflne Lhe
Lhree key dlrecLlons LhaL have lnformed Lhe developmenL of roboLlcs ln arL. 1oday, as arLlsLlc
freedom promoLes roboLlc dlverslLy, Lhe undersLandlng of Lhls Lrlangular framework ls
essenLlal Lo enable us Lo conLlnue Lo explore Lhe hlsLory, Lhe Lheory, and Lhe creaLlon of
roboLlc arL.

1 - klrk, Ceoffrey SLephen. 1he naLure of Creek myLhs (London : enguln, 1990).
2 - ldel, Moshe. Colem: !ewlsh Maglcal and MysLlcal 1radlLlons on Lhe ArLlflclal AnLhropold
(Albany: Sun?, 1990).
3 - Shelley, Mary W. lrankensLeln, Cr, Lhe Modern romeLheus: 1he 1818 1exL (Cxford:
1998), de l'lsle-Adam, vllllers. 1omorrow's Lve (urbana: unlverslLy of llllnols ress, 1982),
Meyrlnk,CusLav. 1wo Cerman supernaLural novels: 1he Colem and 1he man who was born
agaln (new ?ork: uover, 1976), Capek, Capek, karel. 8.u.8 -- 8ossum's unlversal 8oboLs and
Lhe lnsecL lay (new ?ork, Cxford: Cxford un. ress, 1961), Pelnleln, 8oberL. Waldo and
Maglc, lnc. (new ?ork: 8allanLlne, 1986), Aslmov, lsaac. "8eason", flrsL publlshed ln
AsLoundlng Sclence-llcLlon, Aprll 1941, pp. 33-43. Avallable ln Aslmov, l. l, 8oboL (new ?ork,
8anLam 8ooks: 1991), pp. 36-81.
4 - SadamoLo, kunl (edlLor). 8oboLs ln Lhe !apanese Lconomy: lacLs abouL 8oboLs and 1helr
Slgnlflcance (1okyo: Survey !apan, 1981), SchodL, lrederlk. lnslde Lhe 8oboL klngdom: !apan,
MechaLronlcs, and Lhe Comlng of 8oboLopla (new ?ork: kodansha lnLernaLlonal L1u., 1988),
PunL, uanlel. undersLandlng 8oboLlcs (San ulego: Academlc ress, 1990).
3 - 8urnham, !ack. 8eyond Modern SculpLure (new ?ork: Ceorge 8razlller, 1982), pp. 312-376.
llrsL publlshed ln 1968, 8elchardL, !asla. 8oboLs: lacL, llcLlon, and redlcLlon (new ?ork:
engulm 8ooks, 1978), pp. 48-61, kerckhove, uerrlck. "L'espace de la roboLlque en arL", ln
olssanL, Loulse (ed.). LsLheLlques des ArLs medlaLlques - 1 1 (MonLreal: resse unlverslLalre
du Cuebec, 1993), pp. 271-277.
6 - Alfred Chapuls & Ldmond uroz, AuLomaLa: A PlsLorlcal and 1echnologlcal SLudy (new
?ork: CenLral 8ook Company, lnc., 1938).
7 - lrank opper. Crlglns and uevelopmenL of klneLlc ArL, (Creenwlch, ConnecLlcuL: new ?ork
Craphlc SocleLy, 1968).
8 - Schffer, nlcolas. nlcolas Schffer (neuchaLel: LdlLlons du Crlffon, 1963), p. 30.
9 - alk, nam !une. A 1rlbuLe Lo !ohn Cage, 1973 (60 mln, Color, Sound).
10 - Sharp, Wllloughby. "ArLlflclal MeLabollsm - An lnLervlew wlLh nam !une alk", vldeo 80,
n. 4, Sprlng 1982, p.14.
11 - PanhardL, !ohn. "non-laLal SLraLegles: 1he ArL of nam !une alk ln Lhe Age of
osLmodernlsm", ln SLoos, 1onl and kelleln, 1homas (eds.). nam !une alk: vldeo Llme, vldeo
space (new ?ork: Abrams, 1993), p. 79. CapLurlng alk's unlque sense of humor, PanhardL
quoLes Lhe arLlsL, saylng ln a Lelevlslon lnLervlew on Lhe ocaslon, LhaL k-436 "was LwenLy
years old and had noL lLs bar mlLzvah."
12 - SquaL was flrsL documenLed ln onLus PulLen, k. C. 1he machlne as seen aL Lhe end of Lhe
Mechanlcal Age (new ?ork: Museum of Modern ArL, 1968), p. 193. See also 8urnham [3]. Cne
year laLer, Shannon creaLed a ploneerlng Lelepresence concepL wlLh force feedback, and ln
1972 he flled a paLenL requesL wlLh Lhe u.S. aLenL offlce. 1he paLenL was granLed ln 1973. lL
conslsLed of a pressure sleeve wrapped around Lhe Lelephone hand seL. 1hls grlp aLLachmenL
responded Lo pressure and volume varlaLlons creaLed by Lhe grlpplng acLlon of a remoLe
lnLerlocuLor. See: 1homas Shannon, 1elephyslcal hone SysLem, u.S. aLenL n 3,780,223
(1973). lor a comprehenslve caLalogue on Shannon's work, see: CaLherlne Monnler, ed.,
1homas Shannon (Ceneva: Calerle Lrlc lranck, 1991).
13 - 8enLhall, !onaLhan. Sclence and 1echnology ln ArL 1oday (London: 1hames and Pudson,
1972), 78-83, lhnaLowlcz, Ldward. "1owards a 1hlnklng Machlne", ln LeavlLL, 8uLh, ArLlsL and
CompuLer (new ?ork: Parmony, 1976), pp. 32-34.
14 - uerrlck de kerckhove, "Les 8oboLs de norman WhlLe", ArL ress 122, 1988, pgs. 21-22,
WhlLe, norman. "A Casa dos Lspelhos", ln uomlngues, ulana (ed.). A ArLe no Seculo xxl (So
aulo: unesp, 1997), pp. 43-48.
13 - MlcroconLrollers are mlcroprocessors wlLh bullL-ln program-sLorage memory, 8AM, and
usually some perlpheral devlces (such as serlal communlcaLlons clrculLry and Llmers).
16 - lor an acounL of SeawrlghL's work beLween 63 and 68, see: SeawrlghL, !ames.
"henomenal ArL: lorm, ldea, and 1echnlque", ln lry, Ldward (ed.) Cn Lhe luLure of ArL (new
?ork: vlklng, 1970), pp. 77-93. See also: uavls, uouglas. "!ames SeawrlghL: 1he LlecLronlc
SLyle", ln ArL and 1he luLure (new ?ork: raeger, 1973), pp. 133-136.
17 - Coodman, CynLhla. ulglLal vlslons: CompuLers and ArL (new ?ork: Abrams, 1987), p. 133,
pp. 138-143.
18 - Perman, C. and Ludacer, k.. "8are Anlmals 1rylng Lo 8reed, an lnLervlew wlLh S8L",
LlghLworks, no. 17 8lrmlngham, Mlchlgan, 1983, pp. 17-21, !an, Alfred. "Survlval 8esearch
LaboraLorles", Plgh erformance, vol. 8, no. 2, 1983, pp. 32-33, aullne, Mark, "lnLervlew
wlLh Mark aullne", 8e/Search, no. 6/7, 1991), pp.20-41. uery, Mark. Lscape veloclLy
(London: Podder & SLoughLon, 1996), pp. 113-131. See also Lhe Survlval 8esearch
LaboraLorles Web slLe: hLLp://
19 - SLelarc, CbsoleLe 8ody Suspenslons (San lranclsco: ConLemporary ArL ress, 1984).
20 - SLelarc. "rosLheLlcs, 8oboLlcs and 8emoLe LxlsLence: osLevoluLlonary SLraLegles", ln
Leonardo, vol. 24, no. 3, 1991, pp. 391-393, ALzorl, aolo and Woolford, klrk. "LxLended-
8ody: lnLervlew wlLh SLelarc", C1heory (6 SepLember 1993), hLLp://
exLended_body.hLml. Walsh, 8recon. "l lng Lhe 8ody LlecLrlc", Mesh, n. 8/9, AuLumn/WlnLer
1996, pp. 24-23, SLelarc. "araslLe vlslons: AlLernaLe, lnLlmaLe and lnvolunLary Lxperlences",
ArL & ueslgn, n. 36, 1997, pp. 66-69.
21 - Schmlederer, !uLLa (ed.). Cross CompllaLlon (Craz: x-Space, 1994). n.p.n. 1hls ls a self-
publlshed caLalogue documenLlng Lhe group's work from 1991 Lo 1994.
22 - Coldberg, ken eL al. "1he 1ele-Carden: An lnLeracLlve ArL lnsLallaLlon on Lhe World Wlde
Web", ln Slggraph vlsual roceedlngs (new ?ork: ACM, 1993), p. 133, 8urL, !llllan. "Serflng 1he
neL", 21-C Scannlng Lhe luLure, n. 2, 1996, pp. 63-69. Coldberg, ken. "1eleplsLemology on Lhe
World Wlde Web", ln kac, Lduardo (ed.), 1elepresence.?LLM (Speclal lssue), vol. 17, n. 9,
1997, p. 3.
23 - Sobell, nlna and ParLzell, Lmlly. "ark8ench ubllc-Access Web klosks", Slggraph vlsual
roceedlngs (new ?ork: ACM, 1996), p. 133, Sobell, nlna and ParLzell, Lmlly. "vlrLuAllce", ln
kac, Lduardo (ed.), 1elepresence.?LLM (Speclal lssue), vol. 17, n. 9, 1997, p. 3.
24 - uavls, k. u. "uysLoplc 1oys", World ArL, n. 1, 1996, pp 30-33.
23 - AposLolos, M. k., "8oboL Choreography: Movlng ln a new ulrecLlon", Leonardo, vol. 23,
n.1, ergamon ress, Cxford, 1990, pp. 23-29, 8rlll, L., "ArL 8oboLs: ArLlsLs of Lhe LlecLronlc
aleLLe", Al LxperL, !anuary 1994, pp. 28-32, krueger, 1ed. "AuLonomous ArchlLecLure", ulglLal
CreaLlvlLy, vol. 9, n. 1, 1998, pp. 43-47, ClanneLLl, Claudla (ed.). Marcel.ll AnLunez 8oca:
erformances, ob[eLos y dlbu[os (8arcelona: MLCAu, 1998), pp. 31-33, 60-61, 8lnaldo, ken
and Crossman, Mark. "1he llock", Slggraph vlsual roceedlngs (new ?ork: ACM, 1993), p.
120, uemers, Louls-hlllppe and vorn, 8lll. "Lspace vecLorlel", Slggraph vlsual roceedlngs
(new ?ork: ACM, 1993), p. 122, Span[aard, MarLln. "AdelbrechL", Slggraph vlsual roceedlngs
(new ?ork: ACM, 1993), p. 166, uery, Mark. Lscape veloclLy (London: Podder & SLoughLon,
1996), pp. 131-136, McCough, Laura. "rosLheLlc AesLheLlcs", Mesh, n. 8/9, AuLumn/WlnLer
1996, pp. 11-13.