Friday, July 2, 2021

OUTPUT: Industrial Robots and Performing Dancers

RSS 2021: Robotics x Arts Workshop

Catie Cuan ( and ThoughtWorks Arts (Ellen Pearlman/Andy McWilliams)

Industrial robots are widely used in the production of various everyday objects, yet their size, weight, and force render them hidden from the general public. Machinery transforms raw material into usable objects, just as choreography transforms raw motion into dance. OUTPUT, an ongoing artistic collaboration between Catie Cuan and ThoughtWorks Arts, aims to make this hidden machine presence known through various types of film, software, and performance. In each of these modalities, humans are brought closer to the typically inaccessible industrial robot body and engage in abstract improvisation. In doing so, audiences and participants question the fictional notion of adversarial robots and richly engage in how a moving body, whether a robot’s or their own, reverberates through space and time. This presentation will highlight the most recent manifestation of OUTPUT, an augmented reality smartphone application where users can generate a dance dataset to be used in creating future robot choreography.

Artology, the new augmented reality smartphone application, invites app users to participate in the OUTPUT artwork directly. The app renders the ABB robot in augmented reality and the robot moves through the choreographed sequence. A video of the performing artist plays alongside. Then, app users are invited to contribute their own choreography to a dancing dataset collected by the artist. App users record themselves dancing through the app and send this to the artist. This dataset is used to generate new choreography for the ABB robot, thus allowing the app users to participate directly in the work.

All info credited to the artists listed above.