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Hysterical Machines - Bill Vorn

By Rhizome

Bill Vorn is working in the field of Robotic Art since 1992. His installation projects involve robotics and motion control, sound, lighting, video and cybernetic processes. He pursues research on Artificial Life (and Death) and Agent Technologies through artistic work based on the Aesthetics of Artificial Behaviors.

Each 'Hysterical Machines' has a spherical body and eight arms made of aluminum tubing. It has a sensing system, a motor system and a control system that functions as an autonomous nervous system (entirely reactive). Some machines are suspended from the ceiling and their arms are actuated by pneumatic valves and cylinders. Pyroelectric sensors allow the robots to detect the presence of viewers in the nearby environment. They react to the viewers according to the amount of stimuli they receive. The perceived emergent behaviors of these machines engender a multiplicity of interpretations based on single dynamic pattern of events.

The aim of this project is to induce empathy of the viewer towards characters which are nothing more than articulated metal structures. The strength of the simulacra is emphasized by perverting the perception of the creatures, which are neither animals nor humans, carried through the inevitable instinct of anthropomorphism and projection of our internal sensations, a reflex triggered by any phenomenon that challenges our senses.

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