In Inner Space Robots, the Aarhus University Sound Group play with the idea of using nano-robots to explore the physical magnification of human tissue. We do this with a cube (1m x 1m x 1m) that we have constructed of transparent plexiglass in which we place 15 small, autonomous robots. The robots have sensors and they can communicate amongst themselves. The robots also have a vocabulary of sounds, acoustic and synthezised, which we use to create, on the one hand, an aesthetic effect, and, on the other, to denote communication among the robots that shows their state at any particular moment. Viewers can see the robots directly in the cube. Viewers can also hear the cube directly in the installaton space or, in a more amplified manner, by placing special sound magnifiers, which we include with the installation, against the plexiglass surface of the cube.
We use LEGO Mindstorm RCX-computers as the basis of the installation. The RCX-computers run our own software that includes a programmable synthesizer and motivational functions that drives the robots. The software also controls the communication system for the RCX infrared ports: the robots use the ports to communicate with each other. The RCX-computers also control the lighting system of the installation. The sound for the installation runs separately in a Max/MSP patch which also controls the acoustic sounds made by the robots.
Aesthetical description/Artistic description
The cube, with its 15 autonomous robots, and its dynamic sound and lightscape is a constantly shifting system or organism built upon conditional algorithms programmed into the RCX computers. Its algorithms reinvent and reshape the interaction between robots and their surroundings. Thereby, the artwork produces and reproduces itself anew from moment to moment and therefore can be said to operate on its own terms. Through such means, we emphasize the significance of contemplative and immersive qualities in digital art and we focus on emergent and ambient aspects made possible through generative, algorithmic approaches. We anticipate that audiences, as they become immersed in the installation, will reveal its aesthetic and technical dimensions through diverse interpretations and narratives.