Ars Electronica Center
New Exhibition: Creative Robotics
(Linz, May 9, 2018) Most of them work in huge assembly plants or on construction sites, executing the same routines thousands or even millions of times, over and over again. Some can even be found in our homes, vacuuming the floor automatically. In any case, they’re all robots. “Creative Robotics,” the exhibition opening at the Ars Electronica Center on May 9th, shows how industrial robots are now being used outside their usual areas of application as media of artistic and creative expression, and are thus serving as catalysts for the implementation of innovative ideas and to conjure up visions of the future. The spectrum of works on display in this show ranges from industrial robots that can solve a Rubik’s Cube to the prototype of an analog, interactive display.
Overview of the works on display:
FaR – Fashion and Robotics / Anna Piecek / Linz Art University: Fashion and Technology (FAT): Prof. Christiane Luible-Bär, Prof. Ute Ploier, Creative Robotics Laboratory: Prof. Johannes Braumann, Maria Smigielska
Artist Anna Piecek’s main objective in this project was to come up with new and innovative ways to work with textiles by making volumes and unconventional shapes with methods that had never before been used in the context of fabric design. The process of creating this garment was achieved by programming a KUKA robot, which is normally used to perform various technical tasks. After a premade pattern had been saved to the robot’s memory, the robot applied the shapes onto a stretched-out fabric with a hot glue pistol that was mounted on its movable arm. After releasing the fabric, hot glue created wavy shapes and unusual structures that gave the fabric a life of its own through new volumes and dimensions.
A Bridge Too Far / Paul Nicholas, Mateusz Zwierzycki, Esben Clausen Nørgaard, Scott Leinweber, Christopher Hutchinson und Riccardo La Magna / Centre for IT and Architecture (CITA), KADK
The robotic incremental sheet metal forming process is used to turn out small batches of building components. This entails deployment of two standard industrial robots working independently on the basis of CAD data to create the desired metal geometry. The robot arms move a simple tool over the surface of a piece of sheet metal to cause a localized plastic deformation. This approach to digital fabrication opens up new possibilities for the mass-customization of rigidized panels for use in architecture.
A Bridge Too Far demonstrates how this can be done. The 3.5-meter-long bridge is only 0.5 mm thick yet it can support a load of up to 100 kg. This structural capability is entirely dependent on the local deformations within, and connections between, the upper and lower panels. This geometry was not designed in a conventional way; rather, it is the result of a digital modeling approach that combines generative design algorithms with the calculation of small-scale local strains and thicknesses.
BranchBoarding / Tree of Motion: Nico Rayf, Applied Robotics Lab: Philipp Hornung, Wood Technology, University of Applied Arts Vienna
Nico Rayf launched “BranchBoarding” in 2010 in Vienna. His idea was to mount skateboard or longboard axle & wheel assemblies onto a tree branch to then be able to ride it. Over the following years, Nico Rayf experimented with several varieties of trees and woods and various riding styles. In going about it, he also gave consideration to reproduction techniques in order to then propagate those forms that are best suited to mobility. In 2016 he published a branchboard construction manual entitled “Tree of Motion” and, at the same time, initiated “BranchBoarding,” an open project in which all those who are interested can contribute their expertise. The aim is to create one-of-a-kind vehicles out of natural branch forms, to experience and test them, and to share the insights gained thereby with the community.
Cyber Physical Macro Material / Miguel Aflalo, Behrooz Tahanzadeh, Jingcheng Chen, Denitsa Koleva, Sanoop Siby / University of Stuttgart: Institute for Computational Design and Construction, ICD (Prof. Menges), Institute of Building Structures & Structural Design, ITKE (Prof. Knippers)
The project Cyber Physical Macro Material, which was developed at the Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD) as an ITECH M.Sc. thesis project by ITECH students Miguel Aflalo, Behrooz Tahanzadeh and Jingcheng Chen, demonstrates a tangible vision of a new dynamic (and intelligent) architecture for public spaces. The agile and reconfigurable canopy is enabled by a combination of distributed robotic construction and a programmable digital building material.
It uses a smart digital material built from lightweight carbon fiber filament with integrated electronics for communication and sensing, which operate alongside a collection of autonomous aerial vehicles, so-called builders. One can imagine an agile versatile canopy autonomously moving through a large public space providing the occupants with shade or actively rebuilding itself on demand. This approach calls into question conventional, elaborate prefabrication of architectural construction elements.
[proteus] / Maria Smigielska, Pierre Cutellic / Linz Art University: Creative Robotics Laboratory / ETH Zurich: Institute for Technology and Architecture (ITA), Chair for Computer-Aided Architectural Design (CAAD) / Compmonks
[proteus] is the initial prototype of an analog interactive display. In this experiment, ferrofluids—liquids that react to magnetic fields without becoming rigid, and thereby often form interesting three-dimensional structures—are controlled by both electromagnetic signals and a robotic interface. Real-time tracking data gathered from installation visitors is sent to a KUKA industrial robot that influences the ferrofluid in a Petri dish in such a way that it mirrors the spectators’ movement patterns.
The project’s first stage of development is presented in this exhibition. The next phase will investigate influence that can be exerted by neuronal patterns and brain-computer interfaces on the ferrofluid’s forms.
inFORMed Clay Matter / Marco Palma and Andrea Graziano / Co-de-iT for digifabTURINg (IT)
Designed to explore additive fabrication processes, the project focuses specifically on the question of how this material behaves during the fabrication process. Accordingly, this is an examination of the extent to which the material’s characteristics physically and aesthetically influence the forms produced. This means that the production/fabrication phase becomes an integral part of the design process.
The ceramic objects on display were made with the help of a robotic arm equipped with a custom-made tool to extrude clay and other paste-like materials. The digital information required for the robotic fabrication process is seamlessly linked with information about the materials’ characteristics yielded by the clay-to-water ratio—i.e. the viscosity of the clay. Of no lesser importance is an understanding of the complexity of the fabrication process, which ranges from the selection of the robotic infrastructure to the choice of which firing and glazing procedures are to be employed. By using this approach, inFORMED Clay Matter succeeds in bringing forth considerable design potential that is the outcome of robotic efficiency and high-performance computing.
Robot Cell / Institute of Robotics, Johannes Kepler University Linz
The Robot Cell project entails, among other things, research on robot arms’ fine motor skills. The combination of sensitive gripper arms and intelligent perception enables two industrial robots to solve a Rubik’s Cube within a very short time and with the minimum number of pivots.
The Creative Robotics exhibition was produced by Ars Electronica in cooperation with KUKA, Linz Art University’s Creative Robotics Laboratory and Fashion and Technology (FAT) degree program, the Institute of Robotics at Johannes Kepler University Linz, the University of Stuttgart’s Institute for Computer-Based Design, the Centre for IT and Architecture (CITA) in Copenhagen, Co-de-iT in Turin, and Nico Rayf @ Tree of Motion in cooperation with the Applied Robotics Lab and Wood Technology at the University of Applied Arts Vienna.