Maladjusted Ecosystem


This installation is comprised of 4 robot actors that all think for themselves and they all contribute their own part in the creation of a potential ecosystem. There is a Line Drawing robot who is oblivious to everything in its existence but light and the wireless frequency of the Light Seeking robot. The Light Seeking robot is self absorbed in its preoccupation of finding the highest concentration of light as often as possible. When it does so, it has done its duty and sends a wireless announcement; upon hearing, the Drawing robot takes the cue to draw a line. The Line Reading robot is self absorbed in finding as many lines as often as possible and when it has successfully found a line, it sends a wireless signal announcing its success that only the Light Emitting robot can hear. The Light Emitting robot is oblivious to anything but the Reader's wireless signal and any passing audio sounds.

The piece looks at the social implications of having two self absorbed robots working with two oblivious robots to create self perpetuating ecosystem. None of the robots have any concept of cooperation or that the others even exist and thus, the result is a debilitated ecosystem. The oblivious robots let their environment guide them leaving all their responses to chance and the self absorbed robots internalize all information to such a degree that they can't function in their real environment. They look so hard for their goals and desire success to such a degree that they miss what they are looking for.

The drama of the work is in the question that despite all the robot's handicaps will they ever seem to cooperate enough that all robots will be able to do their job at once and for a short time be satisfied? Or are they condemned by their programmed flaws to participate in an ecosystem that is always failing?


This project is a simplified social experiment to see how a few simple principles can create negative behaviours that complicate one's ability to experience the life as they intend. When the robots interact with each other we see how a potential ecosystem is never realised due to each robot's tragic flaw (programmed principles). Instead, we see stereotypical responses that results from the attitude of always struggling in a robot vs robot environment. This endless struggle prevents any robot from experiencing unity with its surroundings. Since the robots are able to choose their own behavioural responses to their environment they become a simplified mimicry of life that shows how their limited programs guide their reactions in a controlled social environment. Thus the work becomes a performance illustrating how these one or two principles influencing all the robots' responses affect the individual robot and its peers in both an indirect and direct manner.

Programming the Line Reader and Light Seeker robots to constantly self analyse has the result of making them nearly incapable of functioning in a productive way as they are preoccupied with their own internal dramas of fulfilling an unachievable goal. The oblivious robots, the Drawing and Light Emitter are no better as they have no knowledge of the robots who are dependant on them and cannot attentively assist them. This work looks at how the predisposition to follow one's own ideas interferes with the concept of unity, and how being completely oblivious to the environment with out some internalization of data from the environment is also at odds with cooperation.

Thus, the work is a performance depicting the suffering of these robots who are working to create a closed ecosystem that can never be realised due to their attitudes that are driven by a completely self absorbed program.

Technical Description

These robots' behaviours are defined by the guidelines in their programs and they can never defer from it. They are actors that show how a tragic flaw can manifest itself in a social environment. They are programmed to make their own interpretations based on the defined principles in their programs and in doing so surprise the programmer by their responses and behaviour. Their behaviours are unpredictable as their program relies on the environment for initiating all decisions.

The self analysis programs in the Line Reading and Light Seeking Robots are instructions that skew the meaning of the data gathered into an interpretation on how well the robot is doing. The external data is collected and used to make the best choice; then the data is skewed into a new meaning where the robot appears to respond emotionally to its situation rather than practically. The Light Seeking robot uses all data collected to measure how long has it been since it last found a strong light source. It will only move towards the brightest area of light without any analysis of other environmental factors. The Line Reader blindly trusts in audio to lead it to all lines. This belief creates for the robot a conflict with its desire to acquire knowledge as sounds lead it close to the other robots and they interrupt it while on a line, shortening its intellectual experience.

The Line Drawing Robot uses the raw external data gathered from its sensors to drive its reactions. There is no mediation between input and output. This robot is the embodiment of obliviousness as it is always physically interfering with the seeking robots. The Light Emitter works on similar principles only the raw data is used as a trigger to initiate its reactions. The body responds to audio to triggers which it uses as a timing signal begin some arbitrary movement in a direction that it deems fit for that particular moment in time.