Rob Saunders Rob Saunders is Lecturer in Design Computing and Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney where he joined the Design Lab. In 1995 he gained a BSc in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science from the University of Edinburgh and in 2002 he was awarded a PhD from the University of Sydney for his work on Curious Design Agents and Artificial Creativity. From 2002 to 2006 he lived in London where he worked on a number of interdisciplinary projects with artists, designers, and scientists including biological simulations of stem cell systems, an intelligent logo design system and autonomous artworks that have been exhibited in galleries across the UK and the USA.
After his return to Sydney in 2006, Saunders focused his attention to exploring computational models of creativity. His research interest lies in understanding human creativity and producing tools that support it. His curious design assistants for example are interface agents that have been developed to support human creativity by filtering and exploring design spaces. Saunders also aims to build minimal and well rounded models of creativity at the individual, social and cultural level for autonomous systems that work independently from humans.
Curiosity is one of the driving forces behind creative activity. As such, Saunders creates curious agents that are computational models of self-motivated learning based on interest in novelty.
In this interview, Saunders tells us about his many projects in curious systems and his take on creativity.
We hear how he first got interested in robotics and automated architecture, and what the future plans are for his lab.
Matthias also talks about how the design of buildings and the urban landscape will change when the construction process becomes automated. The history of modular and automated building is not exactly filled with success. We discuss why that is, and why it is likely to be different this time around.
The issues of safety, compliance with building codes and quality control are other interesting topics that we get to hear more about in this interview.
If you are interested in automated building, you might be interested in our previous interview with Radhika Nagpal, where she talks about the TERMES project that aims to develop an automated building system that mimics termites and how they build their impressive mounts.
Matthias Kohler is an architect with multi-disciplinary interests ranging from computational design and robotic fabrication to material innovation. In 2000, he founded the architecture practice Gramazio & Kohler in conjunction with his partner Fabio Gramazio, where numerous award-wining designs have been realized, integrating novel architectural designs into a contemporary building culture. Trained at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich, his integral approach to practice and research focuses on the interplay of digital design and material processes through advanced construction methodologies.
Since 2005, Gramazio & Kohler hold the Chair for Architecture and Digital Fabrication at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich. Founding the world’s first architectural robotic laboratory, the pioneering investigations of Matthias Kohler concentrate on non-standardized architectural design and additive fabrication processes through the customized use of industrial robots. A significant amount of research has been accomplished addressing scales ranging from 1:1 prototypical installations to the design of robotically fabricated high-rise buildings. Currently Matthias Kohler’s research is focusing on adaptive design strategies for constructive material systems and in-situ robotic fabrication.
In Matthias Kohler’s practice, emphasis is placed on understanding construction and materialization as fundamental to the design of architecture. Gramazio & Kohler demonstrates a profound architectural expertise, considering the building process in all its cultural, constructive and sensual dimensions. Built work ranges from international exhibitions, private and public buildings to large-scale urban interventions. Projects include the Gantenbein vineyard façade, the Tanzhaus theatre for contemporary dance, the Christmas lights for Bahnhofstrasse, the sWISH* Pavilion at the Swiss National Exposition Expo.02 and the Private House in Riedikon.
Matthias Kohler’s innovative explorations have contributed to numerous exhibitions around the world such as the 2008 Architectural Biennial in Venice and the Storefront Gallery for Art and Architecture in New York 2009. His work has been published in a large number of journals, books and mass media and is further documented in the book Digital Materiality in Architecture, which outlines the theoretical context for the full synthesis of data and material in architecture.
Raffaello D’Andrea is Professor of Dynamic Systems and Control at ETH Zürich, and co-founder and chief technical advisor for US company Kiva Systems. His research focus is pushing the boundary of autonomous systems capabilities, with an emphasis on adaptation and learning.
He tells us about his first impressions following one of the biggest deals in the history of robotics, the acquisition of Kiva Systems by Amazon for an estimated USD 775M. D’Andrea was on the show in 2008 to talk about Kiva’s pioneering warehouse automation solution, which uses fleets of up to 1000 mobile robots to streamline the process of picking, packing, and shipping e-commerce products. We also look at work in dynamic systems out of his lab, including projects from the Flying Machine Arena (listen to a previous interview on the Distributed Flight Array) and a recent collaboration with Gramazio & Kohler on the construction of undulated brick walls using quadrocopters. We then dive into the Art scene with projects such as the Blind Juggling Machine, the Robotic Chair and Table and finally take a step back to discuss the importance of fundamental research in engineering and strategies for translating knowledge in complex systems to industry.
D’Andrea is the recipient of the Wilson Medal, the Invention and Entrepreneurship in Robotics and Automation Award, the National Science Foundation Career Award, and the United States Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering. As the faculty advisor and system architect of the Cornell Robot Soccer Team he was also four-time world champions at the international RoboCup competition. His work has been exhibited at numerous international venues, including the Venice Biennale, Ars Electronica, the Smithsonian, and the Spoleto Festival, and two of his robotic art pieces have become part of the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Canada.
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This episode is the last of this three part special series about robot art with guest interviewer David St-Onge, an engineer working at the interface of visionary arts and creative science. David was our guest in a previous episode of the Robots Podcast about robot art. He now brings us into his world through in-depth conversations with 6 world renowned experts in the field.
In today’s show, we talk to Leonel Moura, a European artist born in Lisbon, Portugal, and Ken Rinaldo, Director of the Art and Technology program in the Department of Art at The Ohio State University. Both artists are well known for their dual talent as artist and robot engineer, having built most of their systems themselves.
Leonel Moura is an independent artist from Lisbon, Portugal and European Ambassador for Creativity and Innovation since 2009.
His work revolving around robotics and AI started in 2003 with his first swarm of “Painting Robots”, able to produce original artworks based on emergent behavior inspired from ants. Since then he has produced several artbots, each time more autonomous and sophisticated. In 2006 he created a Robotic Action Painter “RAP” for a permanent exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York which is able to generate highly creative and original art works, to decide when the work is ready and to sign it, which it does with a distinctive signature (see video below). In the same year, he built a poet Robot “ISU” that generates random poems in the style of the Lettrist Movement and of Concrete Poetry. He also worked towards the creation of a zoo for robots and AI in Alverca in 2007 and then curated the portuguese show “INSIDE [art and science]“.
In this episode he describes his hope of seeing robotic artificial creativity produce artworks of tomorrow for living and artificial art lovers.
Ken Rinaldo directs the Art and Technology program in the Department of Art at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. As an artist and theorist, he creates interactive multimedia installations that blur the boundaries between living and artificial systems. He has been working at the intersection of art and biology for over two decades in the categories of interactive robotics, biological art, artificial life, interspecies communication, rapid prototyping and digital imaging.
His artworks have been displayed nationally and internationally at leading museums, galleries and festivals. His latest piece, the “Living Robotic Tongue Installation”, is an artificial tongue that performs massages based on activity of an artificial stomach filled with living bacteria. Other recent work includes the “Edible Ecosystem Sculpture”, “Paparazzi Bots”, “Augmented Fish Reality”, “Autopoeisis” and the “Autotelematic Spider Bots”, an artificial life robotic installation that consists of 10 spider-like sculptures that interact with the public in real-time and self-modify their behaviors, based on their interaction with the viewer, themselves, their environment and their food source.
Rinaldo comes from a family of artists and inventors. Both his parents are contemporary artists. His French Grandfather Jean Vincent Rinaldo was a painter and a member of the Salon Des Independent in Paris. His Scottish Grandfather was an electronics inventor. His Great, Great, Great Uncle was Robert Fulton the American inventor of the steamboat. Born in 1958, Ken Rinaldo studied biology as a teen, ballet in New York City until the age of 20. He has an Associates in Science in Computer Science from Canada College, a Bachelors of Art in Communications from The University of California at Santa Barbara and a Masters in Fine Arts in Conceptual and Information Arts from San Francisco State University.
This episode is the second of a three part special series about robot art with guest interviewer David St-Onge, an engineer working at the interface of visionary arts and creative science. David was our guest in previous episode with the Robots Podcast about robot art. He now brings us into his world through in-depth conversations with 6 world renowned experts in the field. In today’s show, we talk to Bill Vorn from the University Concordia in Montreal and Louis-Philippe Demers from the Nanyang Technological University in Singapour. Both artists started their carreer together in Montreal where they worked on state of the art robotic projects for more than 10 years. One of their most famous projects, ‘La cour des Miracles’ can be seen below.
Bill Vorn is Professor at the Departement of Studio Art at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada where he directs a Robotic Art research-creation lab called “alab”. He has been active in the field of Robotic Art since 1992 with peformances that build on motion control, sound, lighting, video and cybernetic processes and explore questions about artificial life. In this interview he tells us about art work that will make you think about what it means to be human through miserable robots or ones that laugh hysterically.
Vorn’s work has been presented in multiple international events, including Ars Electronica, ISEA, DEAF, Sonar, Art Futura, EMAF and Artec. He has been awarded the Life 2.0 award (1999, Madrid), the Leprecon Award for Interactivity (1998, New York), the Prix Ars Electronica Distinction award (1996, Linz) and the International Digital Media Award (1996, Toronto). He has worked in collaboration with many canadian artists (including Edouard Lock, Robert Lepage, Gilles Maheu, LP Demers and Istvan Kantor) and was cofounder of the electronic pop music band Rational Youth with Tracy Howe in 1981.
Louis-Philippe Demers is Professor at the School of Art, Design and Media at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapour. Before joining the NTU, he was the president of Kunst Macchina Production Company; a group specialized in the commercialization and the R&D of software solutions for the entertainment from 1994 to 1998. From 2001 to 2005, Demers was a Full Professor of Digital Media and Exhibit Design at the Hochschule fuer Gestaltung affiliated to the world renowned ZKM (Zentrum fuer Kunst und Medientechnologie).
Over the years, he has realized several large-scale interactive robotic installations and over 225 machines for the theatre, opera, subway stations, art museums, science museums, music events and trade shows. His collaborations include artists such as Bill Vorn, Christian Möller, Stelarc, Robert Lepage, Peter Gabriel and Le Cirque du Soleil.
His work has been primed with several prizes and featured at major international venues such as Lille 2004, Expo 92, Expo 2000, Sonambiente, ISEA, SIGGRAPH and Sonar. He received three Interactive Kunst prizes Ars Electronica (Distinction 96) and one honourable mention in digital musics in 2005. He received the first prize of artificial life Vida2.0 and the prize for Interactive Lighting at Lightforms 98. His latest work, Devolution, received six prizes in 2006 including the Ruby Innovation award in South Australia, Outstanding Performance from Australian Dance Awards and two Helpmann Awards, the Australian equivalent of the Broadway’s Tony.
In this episode he’ll be telling us about many of his artistic projects, including Tiller Girls, a group of 12 small autonomous robots shown in the video below.