[an error occurred while processing this directive]
(This is the text of the curator's statement from the first annual ArtBots: The Robot Talent Show)

ArtBots: The Robot Talent Show

Technology is not interesting. People doing things with technology, particularly when they're doing things that maybe no one really expected them to do, are the interesting part. Motors, sensors, circuitry and other technological raw materials have few inherent biases; it takes human intuition, creativity, and action to turn a pile of parts into a complex, functioning object. This show features the work of a group of humans who spend their time turning piles of parts into art.

Many people see the idea of robots as artworks and especially the claim that some of these robots can actually create art themselves as problematic. But art that's not directly created by human hands is nothing new. Mechanical loom patterns, musical forms, geometric tiling designs, dance steps and myriad other creative activities have been controlled or influenced by formalized strategies, rule sets, and algorithms for millennia. There are real, and perhaps profound, differences between a painting made by a human and one made by a (human-created!) robot. But those differences - and the questions they raise - are what compel some of us to explore the worlds of robotic, algorithmic and generative art.

Although other kinds of robots have been in the spotlight for the last several years (the Mars rover, BattleBots, search and rescue bots), a tremendous variety of robotics-based art is being created in labs, studios and garages around the world. I started ArtBots as an attempt to publicize and celebrate such innovative work. All of the projects in this show are Do-It-Yourself efforts; they're hand-made robots created by individuals or small groups of people working in their homes and studios without the support of large grants or corporate sponsorship. ArtBots is about people making robots and robots making art.

As the field of robotics matures, robots in their many forms (and more generally computers and advanced technologies) are slowly working their way into larger and often less-obvious parts of our lives. That's neither a good nor a bad thing; technological change is what we make of it. We are making art.

Douglas Irving Repetto, Curator

Robotics is by nature a collaborative activity; this show would never have happened were it not for the help, support and dedication of many people, groups and institutions. In particular, my co-curator Philip Galanter has been an invaluable friend and colleague, and has been my primary collaborator on artistic and logistical issues. Special thanks also to Stephen Turbek and the nice people at the Pratt Institute Industrial Design Program for the use of their time and space. And a big ArtBots whir of gratitude to:

The ArtBots Participants: Ranjit Bhatnagar, David Birchfield, Mira Friedlaender Stephanie Hunt, Keith Waters, John S. Lathram III, mxHz.org, Stefan Joseph Prosky, Gregory Shakar, Eva Sutton, Sarah hart and David Webber. Also: Laura Abel, Christopher Bailey, Amy Charlotte Benson, David Calkins, Angela Gunn, Alex Lee, Jenny Lee, The Mysterious Liz, James Powderly, Eric Singer. And: The Columbia University Computer Music Center, The NYU Interactive Technologies Program, The Pratt Institute Industrial Design Program, The Madagascar Institute, Robotics Society of America, Belgium, dorkbot.org

For more informatio about ArtBots and for documentation of this show, visit: http://artbots.org

Douglas Irving Repetto is an artist living and working in New York City. He teaches at the Columbia University Computer Music Center. http://music.columbia.edu/~douglas

Philip Galanter is an artist interested in generative and complex systems. At NYU he created the Arts Technology Group and teaches in the Interactive Telecommunications Program. http://philipgalanter.com

All materials on this website copyright 2002 douglas irving repetto and the individual artists.