[robotics-worldwide] cfp: Playful Robotic Art

Henrik Hautop Lund hhl at mmmi.sdu.dk
Sun Aug 5 11:32:47 PDT 2007

Call for Participation:

23 August 2007, Odense, Denmark
at the ROBOTS AT PLAY FESTIVAL: www.robotsatplay.dk

Conference venue: First Grand Hotel, Odense
Conference chair: Professor Henrik Hautop Lund
Organiser: Center for Playware, University of Southern Denmark
Registration: Vibeke Nielsen, vibeken at mmmi.sdu.dk, tel: +45 6550 3575


The International Conference on Playful Robotic Art focuses on the 
interaction between play, robotics and art, and how these disciplines 
may inspire each other to develop novel opportunities in play, robotics 
and art. Indeed, it is the vision of this international conference to 
help fostering new insight and opportunities for creations in the 
intersection between the three disciplines play, robotics, and art, 
where some of the most avant-garde inventions for human-machine 
interaction can be found.

Do these disciplines at all intersect, one may ask, and will a possible 
intersection be fruitful? This conference takes the view that play, 
robotics, and art do have a lot in common. Play and art are among the 
most creative, flexible, and complicated human phenomena, that by many 
are regarded as the quite opposite of technology. In spite of that, new 
technology is often spread into society through playful products, and 
many artists are deeply interested in the changes that technology can 
bring about in our way of understanding ourselves as human beings.

Robotics seems to have the potential of changing our interaction, or 
perhaps one should say, our collaboration with machines. Robotics is a 
flexible, “intelligent” technology that can see, hear, feel, and act. 
While robotics is much more than attempts to build human-like machines, 
it is at the same time a technology, which has the ability to understand 
and interact with human behaviour. Robotics is not only about creating 
technology that serves us, it is also about creating new kinds of art 
and new kinds of environments to live in and play with.

The three fields of study - Play, Robot, Art

Play can be described as a free, voluntary activity indulged for its own 
sake, and although creative and sometimes educational, play is 
unproductive and non-utilitarian. Play has boundaries of space and time, 
and takes place temporarily outside 'regular life' with its own course 
and meaning. Play is regulated by arbitrary and contingent rules and 
conventions, which are integral to the uncertainty of play.

Robot is defined to be a programmable machine that by its interaction 
with the surrounding environment autonomously can perform a variety of 
tasks, and its behaviour is different from that of a computer programme 
by its interaction with the environment through sensors and actuators. 
We may define a robot to be intelligent in the sense of having the 
ability to generate a variety of behaviours while complying with the 
givens of the system (environment).

Art can be described as the human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, 
or counteract the work of nature. It can be the conscious production or 
arrangement of sounds, colours, forms, materials, movements, or other 
elements in a manner that affects our senses – often the sense of beauty 
– and which may have an aesthetic or conceptual value. We may say that 
art is a (product of) human activity, made with the intention of 
stimulating the human senses as well as the human mind; thus art is an 
action, an object, or a collection of actions and objects created with 
the intention of transmitting emotions and/or ideas. Beyond this 
description, there is no general agreed-upon definition of art, since 
defining the boundaries of "art" is subjective and limitative, but the 
impetus for art is often called creativity.

Therefore, in order to create an intelligent robot, we need to 
understand how to create an autonomous system with the free and 
voluntary activity and all the uncertainties that autonomy may entail. 
However, we must also understand the rules and conventions of the 
environment in which the system (the intelligent robot) is placed.

Hence, we find that modern AI robotics and play seem to share many of 
the same challenges in terms of understanding free and voluntary 
activity, uncertainty, autonomy, and regulation by rules and conventions 
of the environment. The understanding of one field may shed light on the 
other and vice versa.

Also, art and play share a number of characteristics, even though play 
has traditionally been considered non-productive, whereas art often is 
characterised by productive actions. However, play may lead to 
productive actions, and in our modern society many play actions are 
products in their own right, and though artistic performance is a 
planned action, it shares expression with different forms of play 
(including role playing, play performance, etc.). Furthermore, art and 
play share the common goal of popularity, since in both cases the final 
“success” is subject to people's recognition of value.

Art and Robotics as well share many goals. From a hardware point of 
view, robotics is very close to what is called “sculptural” while its AI 
component may be very close to what is called “conceptual art”, an 
exploration of the aesthetical components of behaviour. Therefore, the 
conference wishes to depict a first draft of the intersection of the 
three fields, underlining overlapping interests and points of 
discontinuity, trying to come to a newer definition of artefacts and the 
way to conceive and interact with them.

The conference will present top researchers from technology and arts 
institutions such as MIT Media Lab, Tokyo Institute for Technology, The 
Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Institute, Royal Academy of Fine Arts 
Copenhagen, Academy of Fine Arts Bari, and top artists from Spain, 
Portugal, Germany, etc.

The overall aim of the Robots at Play Festival is to spread knowledge 
about robotics by presenting interactive robotic systems in the daily 
life of the citizens. Therefore, the festival takes place on an open 
city square, in art museums, library, bars, cinema, etc. in the city 
centre of Odense that has nominated “play and robotics” as its future 
focus for industrial and city development. Apart from the prize, the 
festi­val hosts numerous events like robot construction, robot bazaar, 
robot film presentati­ons, play, learning, robot art exhibition, robot 
art performances, RoboMusic development, a stage show, an international 
Playful Robotic Art conference and a debate on robotics ethics. All 
events take place in the centre of the city amongst the citizens in 
their daily environment. Please have a look at the video from last 
year's festival (http://www.robotsatplay.dk/video_engvn.html) and the 
descriptions of activities and photos of some of the robots from the 
forthcoming 2007 festival on the web-site.

Robots at Play Festival, Odense, Denmark, 23-25 August 2007: 

Yours sincerely,

Henrik Hautop Lund, professor
Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Institute
University of Southern Denmark
Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense M, Denmark
Tel: +45 6550 3574 Fax: +45 6615 7697
hhl at mmmi.sdu.dk

More information about the robotics-worldwide mailing list