Partially inspired by the robotic “flocking” installation pieces by Ken Rinaldo, my first primary concept was to make a cybernetic installation that creates a feedback loop between the piece itself and the viewers, which means, as the piece responds to the viewer/environment’s input, the viewer/environment is also changing in respond to the shifting of the piece. Therefore, this idea set the base for my subsequent, more specific concept developments.
Since I am a visual artist, I’m also interested in the concept of a drawing machine. What’s intriguing about the concept of the drawing machine for me is that it doesn’t have total control over its output; for example, in talking about his robotic drawing machine, Harvey Moon says that “[p]art of that process is how, often, a machine can fail at what it was told to do. ‘That loss of communication and that failure for a machine to communicate properly is what I find exciting and the randomness in which it produces these results.'” (Holmes n.p.)
(Moon and his drawing machine. Source: The Creators Project – VICE)
Inspired by this idea, I wanted to create a drawing machine who “works together” with its viewers; both sides of the creators constantly interact with the piece in progress, leading to somewhat random unexpected visual outputs, and neither side has complete control over the final drawing produced. The machine would receive initial input from the viewers, and run its own program to modify that input according to certain set rules; for instance, if the viewer draws a line, the system would extend that line according to the original angle it is drawn in, bounce the line against the boundaries of the screen, and then continue drawing it. There would also be rules that keep the screen/canvas from being static, such as that if the canvas is about to be completely filled, drawings in certain colors would be erased or the eraser would move across the canvas in certain patterns. In the meantime, the viewer can always keep adding or erasing elements onto/from the screen/canvas, thus creating an ongoing interaction among the system, the drawing and the environment/viewer, complicating the system as well as the drawing. Sometimes the viewer would have in mind a certain kind of image they want to create, and the “struggle” against and interaction with the system become more interesting in this case.
Ideally, in the installation space, the piece would be projected onto a large screen or a wall so that the viewers can get a sense of the piece being actually organic and emergent, that the elements in the drawing are constantly moving and changing. Many robotic artworks, such as the ones that involve cybernetic systems, create a sense of “life” through the organic behaviors of the systems, and I want to encapsulate the idea of an organic cybernetic system by enabling the viewers to “co-create” drawings with the system.
Holmes, Kevin. “Robots That Create Art: Harvey Moon’s Drawing Machines.” The Creators Project, Vice Media Inc. 24 June 2013. Web. 20 April 2016.