This installation has been done for the exhibition BUG
which took place in 10 places around Paris in May 2006

 

SMARt 2006 - Symposium Music Art and Robotics - HfK: University of the Arts Bremen - Germany

 

"La Provence au Pernambouc": MEPE: Museu do Estado de Pernambuco - Recife - Brazil.

 

 

The installation gathers a group of 10 robotic dogs in which some punctual and random bugs emerge (this is almost a pleonasm) in order to ironically illustrate the potential consequences of some functional problems in the system.

It consists of 10 robotic dogs I-Cybie, the same kind of robots that I have already used in my previous installations DogLAB]01 and Dog[LAB]02. I don’t use AIBO, the robot from Sony which already has a programming software, but I rather use the robot from Tiger & Silverlit that I literally must operate. I have to make hardware modifications before being able to entirely reprogram it.

The term which is appropriate for this diversion is “to hack” and not its French translation “pirater” which implies a malicious intention. This hardware modification, this real intrusion into the system sometimes also generates some bugs and various dysfunctionings. But here they are intentional, programmed and deliberately introduced into the program via a random system which will generates them in the different programs of the robots.


 

These bugs are not fatal but they temporally alter the normal behaviour that a robotic dog can have, mainly its locomotion. Thus some robots behaves strangely from time to time. One of them has to walk by only using its front legs, its back legs being bugged for a while. Another one tries to walk by swimming or crawling. A third one tries to walk by rolling on its side and a last one stands on its head. Some cramps, tremors, falls, all kinds of strange behaviours will appear punctually and then disappear. Nevertheless bugs can also alter the real nature of the robot which will therefore become either aggressive: the robot is doing the guard dog or the wolf, or adopts a sweet behaviour such as cat’s one.

Is bug contagious ?

Spectators are lead to observe these robots that evolve normally in their environment before seeing some bugs emerging from time to time. Bugs are announced by a short sound signal such as the famous Windows critical error sound, a sound which is spontaneously associated to a data-processing error.

Even if nowadays data-processing bugs can have terrible consequences, the idea of bug is here treated in an ironic manner such as the first bug which appeared at the MIT in 1947 and which was caused by a simple bug fallen down into a processor.

This experimental space looks like the ones we can find in robotics laboratories working in fundamental research on group behaviour, but here it is the theatre of burlesque dysfunctionings. Contrary to the programs developments and improvements that the technician could expect, here he will observe and analyse some bugs.

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