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Robo-Improvisation Arena

John Roach and Käthe Wenzel

November 6, 2009 through November 15, 2009

 

Have you ever controlled a robot or conducted an orchestra?

 

Artists John Roach and Käthe Wenzel say, “You can do both in one go!” Their “Robo-Improvisation Arena” at Space on Dobbin turns the gallery into a “collective art coliseum.” The audience activates five remote-controlled robots, or “artbots”, designed by Berlin artist Käthe Wenzel. Bearing charged brushes and such heraldic names as “Pablo, Hellraiser Off Canvas”, “Fightin’ Gal Frida,” and “Andy Popsicle,” the artbots move around the 8 foot-square arena. As they pass magnetic fields in the installation, designed by sound artist John Roach, they trigger colored lights and signal  musicians to improvise. But the musicians also must follow the artbots’ painted marks like an evolving graphic score. 

 

The installation is a collectively operated system of color, sound, and movement. The result can be a duet between an artbot and a soloist, or an interactive symphony. 

 

“I am interested in setting up open experiments that the audience completes,” says John Roach. “The results of this piece depend on your presence and your choices. You’re invited to embrace uncertainty, expectation and curiosity. You never know who’s in control.” For Käthe Wenzel, “Robo-Improvisation Arena” reflects the dynamics of urban life, which we all produce and participate in daily. It is also emblematic of the collective production of culture, crossing temporal, geographic, and personal boundaries. This points away from the mechanisms of the art market, including the role of the ‘heroic’ artist as the generator of art history.

 

The installation functions with live musicians performing on Friday Nov. 6th,, 6.30-9.30 PM  (musicians: Irene Fong, John McQueeney, Paul Corio) & Friday Nov. 13th, 6.30-9.30 PM (musicians: Glendon Jones, Benjamin Bacon, Charles Goldman). At other times, visitors operate artbots accompanied by recorded music.

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© ALMA 2014