A swarm of 15 mobile semi-autonomous robots create an emotionally charged atmosphere through their own kind of body language and behaviours.
Simultaneously, the orchestra of creatures compose a real-time soundtrack engaging the perceptual engine of the listener in an unusual way. A ‘keeper’ will interact with the public informing them of the swarm’s narratives and behaviours.
Cybernetic Intimacy explores interspecies communication between humans and this mechatronic lifeform. In the dark, the lights of the creatures evoke the audience’s imagination about their intentions and inner states. The artwork provokes thought about what we expect from robots and Artificial Intelligence. Do we want a swarm of robots to treat us with empathy or to regard us as an optimisation target?
In 2022, German based Hochschuh & Donovan exhibited the forerunner to Cybernetic Intimacy at ZKM Germany, the world’s leading museum of electronic art.
Cybernetic Intimacy creates unfamiliar and exciting situations for the audience who can interact with an AI embodied in a robot and experience the unusual physical phenomena of directional sound.
When entering their habitat and interacting with the Cybernetic Intimacy robots, the audience will be part of a psychological experiment in interspecies communication experiencing how they start to ascribe different emotional states and intentions to the non-humanoid machines.
Reacting to proximity and different forms of expressions, the robots change their behaviours which creates a dialogue in which both species investigate each other. Even simple movements towards or away from the human give space for the imagination about the robot’s playfulness, sympathy or friendliness.
About the Creators
Katrin Hochschuh and Adam Donovan are a collaborative artistic duo working at the intersection of art, science and technology. Their experimental artistic research is focused on developing robotics as immersive empathetic inclusive artworks, investigating different robotic platforms and behaviours that emerge from technological possibilities and interaction.
Their participatory robotic sculptures question the role of the human, perception and social implications of technology. Incorporating phenomena like non-linear acoustics into their work, they explore the intangible aspects of physics, amplify their effects, and use them to create new mediums and experiences. Both Katrin and Adam have profound knowledge in programming respectively electronics and hardware design, enabling their unbound creativity in developing their creatures.
The duo perform and exhibit internationally and are part of the European Media Arts Platform. Their artwork is collected by ZKM Karlsruhe. Their works and machines invoke an otherness or timelessness that is only present in the here and now.
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