Nine compact robotic cubes that spin and move in an exhibition space generate an immersive environment for viewers, one in which they experience their own bodies as sensorially extended into the whole space and toward its contents. The space is very dark, illuminated only by the coloured light emanating from the cubes, which changes according to their proximity to each other and to people. The cubes want to stay near each other and to cohere in a regular, orderly shape, and human interactants disrupt that basic urge. But the cubes are adaptive, so they also show an urge to incorporate people into their group: they split off from the originating group so as to follow and surround interactants, trying to encircle them and get them to help establish a stable, symmetrical circular form. If a person gets too close to a cube in the process, it lights up vividly red to repel that person. The human interactants have to co-adapt with the cubes. If the cubes get too close to each other they spin around until they settle. Technically, the dynamic of POEtic Cubes is achieved through a carefully crafted interplay of at least six types of sensors housed in each robot, and RF communication protocols that link their autonomous behaviours. But the technology is completely transparent: the set of rules that the cubes are programmed with leads to a charming sense of disciplined, peaceable and cooperative group behaviour, among the cubes as well as the participating public.
About the authors
Raquel Paricio García BA in Fine Arts. She is currently studying a PhD at the UPC on evolutionary hardware applications in multi-sensor artistic installations. She is the coordinator of the “Res-Qualia.net” (2005-08) project; joint president of “Computational Aesthetics”: CAe 2007, Banff (CANADA) and organiser of the “(IN)-tangibles: NANOpercepció i mon quàntic” session, which was held together with Victoria Vesna and David Peat at the CCCB (Barcelona, 2007). Some of her most notable conferences and publications are: “Computational Aesthetics 2007”. Eurographics workshop on Computational Aesthetics in Graphics, Visualization and Imaging. Editor/ ELSEVIER. 2007. doi:10.1016/j.cag.2007.08.002 / LEA (LEONARDO Electronic Almanac). MIT Press. June 2007 / Technoetic Arts: a journal of speculative research. November 2006/ Complex System Network of Excellence. European Commission. November 2006 / “Art & consciousness in the post biological era” Conference (organised by Planetary Collegium) / Proceedings of the 13th ACM International Conference on Multimedia. Singapore pages 783-789. 2005 / Proceedings of the Consciousness Reframed 2004: Qi and Complexity Conference (organised by Planetary Collegium)