Survival Research Labs: Shows: Rhizome - The Art of Extreme Robotics

T H E   A R T   O F   E X T R E M E   R O B O T I C S

a Rhizome.LA Event
Date: February 24, 2002
Time: 5pm - 8pm
Location: Rocco
6320 Santa Monica Blvd.
Hollywood, California
$5-10 sliding-scale cover will be charged at the door.


P r o g r a m m e:

Eric Paulos The Threat of Irrelevance
Christian Ristow Altering One's State: Personal Effectiveness Enhancement by way of Temporary Transposition of Self into Robots
Kevin Binkert The Intersection of Creativity and Commerce
Simon Penny Embodied Interaction and Procedural Aesthetics
Mark Pauline Manufacturing Alien Technologies

O v e r v i e w :

Machines are, in theory, designed to be efficient, convenient, non-intrusive. They blend into our environments seamlessly as non-threatening and often even aesthetically pleasing tools. Machines are everywhere: a ubiquitous part of the enhanced environment. Some are autonomous, while others are tightly coupled with the human body: prosthetics, communication devices, even jewelry . This gentle encroachment, combined with ongoing research toward machine sentience, forces us to consider machines outside the context of mere tools. They are part of our social, emotional, artistic, and even spiritual context.

California has been ground zero for machine art and robot performance. Silicon Valley and Hollywood, de-commissioned military bases, a technically skilled volunteer pool and access to discarded equipment have created a fertile breeding ground for a virulent mechanical 'arts and crafts' scene with a hacker ethic. Technologies such as augmented reality, increasingly versatile and robust sensors and actuators, computer vision, artificial life, and virtual reality are appropriated and subverted by these artists in order to experiment with alternative scenarios for extreme human-machine interaction.

This month at Rhizome, Karen Marcelo and Maribeth Back present The Art of Extreme Robotics. The featured artists explore inter-machine and human-machine interactions through robotic art and performance. Their work in extreme machine conceptualization, creation, and operation allows us to examine the effects of alternative modes for integration of machines in our own lives with visceral immediacy.

Eric Paulos and EIU (Experimental Interaction Unit)
The Threat of Irrelevance

Eric Paulos and EIU, as developers of the first privately owned electromagnetic weapon and anonymous biological pathogen dispersion system, reaffirm their dedication to researching the most vital elements of future human interaction systems. Their expertise, knowledge, and rapid adaptation skills have been deployed in an effort to design new systems and tools to combat and intimately connect with the future. Challenging times bring new urgency to these parlous projects which will be discussed tonight.

Christian Ristow
Altering One's State: Personal Effectiveness Enhancement by way of Temporary Transposition of Self into Robots

Christian Ristow discusses the general concept of the transposition of one's self into the robot by way of radio operation, pointing out how this simulated transposition is greatly augmented by the reality of the situation, and, by extension, posit the supremacy of the operator experience in a performance setting. The satisfaction experienced by a machine operator in the context of a performance is vicariously experienced by the audience in a way that other media is not. Christian discusses each of his robots in this context and how these considerations infuence the concept and design of these robots.

Kevin Binkert
The Intersection of Creativity and Commerce

Kevin Binkert discusses the intersection of creativity and commerce.

Simon Penny
Embodied Interaction and Procedural Aesthetics

Simon Penny's art practice concerns embodied interaction with sensor driven, quasi-intelligent systems which behave as semi autonomous agents or groups of semi-autonomous agents. He discusses procedural aesthetics that imbue machines with non-linear, event-driven behavior based on sensing and responding to its environment thus physically engaging the audience or user with an embodied interaction with his art.

Mark Pauline
Manufacturing Alien Technologies

Mark Pauline gives a talk full of contemptuous ridicule for the notion of Technology as an alienating force, combined with an unreconstructed epiphany on blind allegiance to total technical immersion.

A b o u t   t h e   A r t i s t s:

K e v i n   B i n k e r t

Kevin Binkert and Flame Tornado
Kevin Binkert is a San Francisco based inventor, machinist, pyro-expressionist. At age three he stuck a key into an electrical outlet. More recent experiments include: breaking the sound barrier with the mind shattering roar of 460 V8 powered Spinner which put the Austrian air force on red alert during a machine performance at the Steirischer Herbst Festival '92; the creation of a 40 foot tall Flame tornado; and numerous mechanical/explosive collaborations with Survival Research Laboratories in the US, France and Austria over the past 12 years. Binkert has operated his Flame Tornado machine in numerous solo shows in San Francisco and across America. He is currently a Spirit of America land speed record team member. During his time with the SOA team, he designed and built many of the systems onboard. On 10/96 the 45,000 horsepower jet car streaked across the Black Rock desert at 677 mph.

Kevin is currently the owner and operator of Standard Metal Products (SMP), a San Francisco based machine shop engaged in diverse jobs such as medical and dental instruments, movie props, unsafe toys, railway trains, public water safety devices, aircraft, and the restoration of the 1915 Clock Tower mechanisms in the Oakland Tribune. He recently escaped town for a brief stint as an ape in a burlesque show.


M a r k   P a u l i n e

Born: Dec. 14, 1953, Sarasota, Florida
Education: BA Visual Arts / Eckerd College St. Petersburg FL. 1977. Performances: Originated and developed the concept of large scale machine performance beginning in 1978 with the founding of Survival Research Laboratories. Staged over 50 machine performances in the US and Europe as director of SRL. The most recent performance was staged in Berkeley, CA on Dec. 15rd 2001. Constructed and designed dozens of large, complex robots and machines for use in these performances. Have trained and supervised the efforts of over 200 assistants in the art of machine performance.

SRL show 15 Dec 2001
Teaching / Lectures, Panels : Over 180 lectures, panel discussions, and seminars at locations such as: Oxford Univ, Yale, Commonwealth Club of SF, Stanford, Interval Research Corp., MIT, Rutgers, UCLA, Carnegie-Mellon, Stanford, Los Alamos Laboratories, SCIARC, and at numerous locations throughout Europe, and Australia. Visiting professor, 1989 spring semester, Art Institute. Television Appearances: Over 80 TV spots in the US, Europe, Australia, and Japan, ranging from interviews and video documentation specials to anonymous reports of mechanized pranksterism.

Publications: Over 420 articles and interviews both in print and on-line, in such publications as, Wired Magazine, NY Times, 21 C., Grand St. Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, South Atlantic Quarterly, Parkett, Art in America, ID Magazine, Art Forum, SF Chronicle, SF Examiner, Vogue, etc. Also featured in numerous books, including Mark Dery's "Escape Velocity" and Kevin Kelly's "Out of Control".

Awards: NEA Interarts 1984,$ 7500.00, Art Matters 1986, $5000.00, NEA Interarts, 1987, $5000.00, NYSCA, 1987, $9000.00. Fund For US Artists at International Festivals, $4000.00./1988, $7000.00/1992 Fleishhaker Foundation, 1989, $15,000.00, Artspace Sculpture Grant, 1989, $7500.00., California Arts Council, 1992, $5000.00. , Fund For US Artists at International Festivals, 1992, $7500.00, New Langton Arts Exhibition Grant, 1992, $3200.00.

Survival Research Laboratories was conceived and founded by Mark Pauline in 1978. Since its inception, SRL has operated as an organization of creative technicians dedicated to redirecting the techniques, tools, and tenets of industry and science away from their typical manifestations in practicality or product. SRL has staged over 55 mechanized presentations in the United States Europe and Japan. Each performance consists of a unique set of ritualized interactions between machines, robots, and special effects devices, employed in developing themes of socio-political satire. Humans are present only as audience or operators.


E r i c   P a u l o s

Eric Paulos and PRoP (Personal Roving Presence)
Eric Paulos received his PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley. His research, scientific, artistic, and social interests revolve around robotics and internet based telepresence, particularly the physical, aural, visual, and gestural interactions between humans and machines and various permutations of these interactions. In 1996 he founded the Experimental Interaction Unit (EIU) to directly address concerns and topics in this area. EIU developed the I-Bomb, the first privately owned electromagnetic weapon system and soon after Dispersion, an anonymous biological pathogen vending machine (soon to be consider a crime under California Assembly Bill #74 2002).
He has developed several internet based tele-operated robots including, Mechanical Gaze in 1995 and Personal Roving Presence (PRoP) devices such as Space Browsing helium filled tele-operated blimps and ground based PRoP devices (1995-1998). He collaborated to design and implement the world's first web tele-robotic laboratory called Legal Tender, that allows users to remotely examine a pair of $100 bills and experiment on them to determine their authenticity. He has also collaborated extensively with Mark Pauline of Survival Research Laboratories (SRL), to develop the first globally accessible system that provides anonymous civilians the ability to operate intentionally lethal mechanical devices over the internet.

Eric's work has been exhibited internationally, including the InterCommunication Center (ICC) in Japan, Ars Electronica in Austria, SIGGRAPH, the Dutch Electronic Art Festival (DEAF) in Rotterdam, the Blasthaus Gallery, and a performance for the opening of the Whitney Museum of American Art's 1997 Biennial Exhibition, an opening event at SFMOMA, LA MOCA, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and an event for the inauguration of the new ZKM Center for Art and Media Technology in Karlsruhe, Germany. Eric is a founding member of the IEEE Technical Committee for Internet Telepresence and respected as an important contributor to the field of computer supported collaborative work (CSCW).


S i m o n   P e n n y
Simon Penny is an Australian artist, theorist and teacher in the field of Interactive Media Art. His art practice consists of interactive and robotic installations, which have been exhibited in the US, Australia and Europe. "Traces" (1999) is a telematic interactive environment using networked CAVEs with machine vision sensing in each CAVE. This project is a development on directions pursued the machine vision driven interactive digital video installation "Fugitive", first shown at ZKM Multimediale5, Oct97 and again at EMAF98 (European Media Art Festival, Osnabruck). Fugitive Two was commisioned by the Australian Center for the Moving Image and will be installed in early 2003. Other recent projects include the emergent complexity sound installation Sympathetic Sentience (I, II and III, with Jameison Schulte) and the autonomous robotic artwork Petit Mal. He is currenly involved in a collaborative machine vision-telerobotic project ('Bedlam') with Bill Vorn of Concordia University, Montreal.
Simon Penny
His essays on Culture and Technology and Electronic Media Art have been translated into seven languages. He edited the anthology Critical Issues in Electronic Media (SUNY Press 1995) and is currently working on a manuscript 'Making Culture Machines' for MIT press. Recent essays include: "Representation, Enaction and the Ethics of Simulation" (in 'First Person', Eds: Harrigan and Wardrip-Fruin, MIT Press, 2002); "Agents as artworks and agent design as artistic practice" in Human Cognition and Social Agent Technology, Ed : Kerstin Dautenhahn, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2000. "Cyborg Art and Systems Aesthetics: the Legacy of Jack Burnham" (Sculpture Magazine, jan99); and "The Virtualisation of Art Practice: Body Knowledge and the Engineering World View" (CAA Art Journal Fall97); "The Darwin Machine: Artificial Life and Interactive Art", (New Formations UK,#29,Technoscience Issue, 1996);

He curated Machine Culture (arguably the first international survey exhibition of interactive art) at SIGGRAPH '93 in Anaheim CA. Recent awards include a grant from the Langlois foundation (with Bill Vorn), first prize in the Cyberstar 98 awards (GMD/WDR, Germany) and a residency at the Institut fur Bildmedien, ZKM Karlsruhe, spring97.

He established the Electronic Intermedia Program at the University of Florida 1989-93. He was Associate Professor of Art and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh PA) 1993-2001, a joint position between the School of the Arts and the Robotics Institute. . He was European Professor of Interactive Environments, a joint position at University of Portsmouth UK and Merz Akademie, Stuttgart, responsible for establishing an international interdisciplinary PhD program (2000-2001) Durimng that time he was also a member of the management committee of the EU ESPRIT project CIRCUS. He is now Professor of Arts and Engineering at University of California Irvine (a joint appointment between the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and the Claire Trevor School of Arts). He is establishing a new graduate program in Arts, Computation and Engineering and is Layer Leader for the Arts in CALIT2.


C h r i s t i a n   R i s t o w

Christian Ristow and Hand Claw
Christian Ristow's high-octane robotic performance art has been featured at venues ranging from The Bergamot Station Gallery Complex in Santa Monica to the Blasthaus Gallery in San Francisco, from The Brewery Art Colony in Downtown LA to the Automatic Art Space in Phoenix, Arizona. Recently profiled in the October issue of Los Angeles Magazine and on the Los Angeles evening news, his work has also been seen in books such as Robo Sapiens and Body Probe, magazines such as Wired, The LA Weekly, National Geographic, Spin, Raygun, and Gadfly, as well as on The Discovery Channel's Robots Rising and on TechTV. His commercial robotic work has been featured in Stephen Spielberg's A.I. and Bicentennial Man, among other films and commercials. He holds a B.A. in Architecture from Columbia University and worked for several years with the San Francisco based robotic performance group Survival Research Laboratories.

M e e t   t h e   M o d e r a t o r s

Karen Marcelo worked with the CSL group at Xerox PARC developing mobile code for simulated ubiquitous computing environments and recombinant computing research. Previous projects she has worked on include a VRML authoring tool, a web-based multi-user 'world' Nerve Garden which received Honorable Mention in the .NET category at Ars Electronica 1998, and a parameterized 3D visualization program (Tetrahedonism) which placed 3rd in the Science and Engineering category of the VRML Excellence Awards in 1997. In her spare time she is Tele-obliteration Engineer for Survival Research Labs, coding Internet telerobotic systems for lethal robots.
Maribeth Back designs, builds, and writes about multisensory interfaces and environments. She is a dynamic systems designer and audio engineer whose work includes experimental electronic books and reading devices, mixed reality systems, sound design for professional theatre, radio, and CD-ROM; system design for virtual and computational environments; and performance installation pieces, both solo and collaborative. In 2001 she won the ID Magazine Silver Award for her Listen Reader, an experimental Magic Book that incorporated rich, controllable sound textures into each page of a real paper-based childrens’ book. At Xerox PARC (1996 - 2002) she worked with the RED group exploring emerging genres and document types.