Encounter

A robotic arm is hanging from above, curiously observing its surrounding with a mirror. It behaves in an uncanny, live-like manner. If the machine senses us it retracts fearfully, tracking our movements with its mirror. We feel as if being observed by a creature, but are looking at our own face in its mirror. If we stay for a while the robot seems to overcome its fear, curiously approaching us. But if we come too close to it yet, it will recede. If we spend a bit more time with the machine it will eventually get used to us. If we come closer it playfully moves around us, reacting to our movements and holding the mirror up to our face from different perspectives.

Machines that behave like living creatures evoke an uncanny feeling. Our mind realizes that we are dealing with an inevitably lifeless machine. Our intuitive perception on the other hand perceives a lifelike creature and we form a social relationship.

We as creators naturally attach human characteristics to our creations. In them we can see ourselves. This machine has no face. Instead the visitors become its face, looking at themselves in the machine. Our distinction between living beings and machines seems to fade. Do we want increasingly anthropomorphic devices?

The robot arm is actuated using networked smart servos and inverse kinematic algorithms. The head-tracking is done using a Kinect v2 and the software is based on OpenFrameworks and Processing.

Created during summer semester 2018 in the new media class of Prof. Joachim Sauter at University of the Arts Berlin.

Selected publications:
- Creative Applications
- Digital Trends
- Robotic Gizmos.

Selected exhibitions:
- Shenzhen New Media Art Festival 2019
- Bitkom office opening 2019
- 36th Chaos Communication Congress 2019
- Strange Things, Silent Green Berlin 2020.

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Encounter at Strange Things, Silent Green Berlin

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© Fang Tsai

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© Fang Tsai

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© Fang Tsai

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© Fang Tsai


Encounter at Shenzhen New Media Art Festival 2019

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Encounter at Rundgang 2018, University of the Arts Berlin

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