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Sunday, June 12, 2005

GEL 2005 - Bruce Shapiro

Bruce Shapiro is the artist in residence at Science Museum of Minnesota. He creates art and artistic patterns with computer controlled simple motors.

Mark Hurst interviewed Bruce before the conference here.

Bruce says:
I'm most interested in doing experiments with the simplest machines possible, like with a single motor. I'm not sure anyone's done it, simply because people have assumed there's nothing that interesting to do, in that protozoan level of robotics. I'm continually amazed by the behaviors I see in very simple motion control systems. I go out of my way not to use the term robotics, because once you do, it's hard for people not to think of anthropic machines.
Bruce brought a simple machine with him to demonstrate the concept. You have perhaps seen ribbon dancers. They have a short wand with a long thin and colorful ribbon attached to it. As you twirl your arm, the ribbon moves in waves. You can move your body and the ribbon will move accordingly. The machine had a simple arm to replicate this twirling. Turned on it created wonderful patterns until its end got caught on the base. A minor problem some tweaking would fix but in the short demo time Bruce had was not available. This did not detract from the demo however. It seemed to further engage the audience as we watched and tried to anticipate if the ribbon was going to get stuck.

Visit Bruce's web site for more pictures and some video samples of his work.

Wonderful stuff. Simply done.

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