• Author: Eduardo Kac & Marcel·lí Antúnez Roca
    Written: Barcelona
    Date: October 1996
    Topic: Robotic Art manifest
    Category: GENERIC TXTS

After meeting in Helsinki in October of 1996 during the MuuMedia? Festival, Eduardo Kac and Antunez Roca, both participants
in the robotic art show "Metamachines: Where is the Body?", at Otso Gallery, in Tapiola, and in the Art and Robotics Seminar, at the
Ateneum, in Helsinki, decided to share their notes and drafted this joint statement:

Expanding the narrow definition of robots in science, engineering, and industry, art robots make room for social criticism, personal concerns, and the free play of imagination and fantasy. Robots are objects that work in time and space. Their open and diverse spatio
temporal structures are capable of specific responses to differing
stimuli. Some of the visual forms that robotic art can take include
autonomous real-space agents, biomorphic automata, electronic
prosthetics integrated with living organisms, and telerobots
(including WebBots).

Robots are not only objects to be perceived by the public-as is the
case with all other art forms-but are themselves capable of
perceiving the public, responding according to the possibilities of
their sensors. Robots display behavior. Robotic behavior can be
mimetic, synthetic, or a combination of both. Simulating physical
and temporal aspects of our existence, robots are capable of
inventing new behaviors.

One of the crucial concerns of robotic art is the nature of a
robot's behavior: Is it autonomous, semi-autonomous, responsive,
interactive, adaptive, organic, adaptable, telepresential, or
otherwise? The behavior of other agents with which robots may
interact is also key to robotic art. The interplay that occurs
between all involved in a given piece (robots, humans, etc.) defines
the specific qualities of that piece.

Robots are not sculptures, paintings, or video art. Art robots are
not to be confused in any way with mechanical-looking, static
anthropomorphic statues or sculptures (even those that display
moving video images). Programs that retrieve information and perform
other functions on the Internet, despite being misleadingly called
Internet robots, or Netbots, are not related to robotic art. Robotic
art always involves a component of real space.

Robots are a new art form and they are prone to be hybridized with
diverse technologies. This quality makes them transcend the category
of object to be diffused into the environment.

Robotic art can occur in physical places, in telematic space, in
virtual environments, or any combination of these that includes an
actual location. Robots are new things in the art world. Robotic art
has antecedents in the work of artists such as Tinguely and Paik,
but it constitutes a completely unique art form in its own right,
different from sculpture, video, performance, and other familiar
artistic practices. Prototypes are found in sequential machines that
endlessly repeat their temporal structures. Only microprocessors
allow a more complex and distinct behavior each time, be it in
specific or random form. Microprocessors are as important in robotic
art as brushes, paint, and canvases are in painting.

Robots belong to a new category of objects and situations disruptive
to the traditional taxonomy of art. Where one once spoke of
boundaries, borders, and limits we find today new territories. These
new artistic terrains are open to new possibilities and relate to
one another in productive ways. In these new heterodox terrains,
hybrid creatures with no preceding models are born. Coupled with
telecommunications media, for example, robotics gives origin to
telepresence art, in which the robot is the host of a remote

As a genre, robots do not aspire to convert themselves into closed
and fixed forms. They are capable of perishing as a concept if a new
situation arises to encompass and surpass them. Robots exist at a
juncture of creative debate and conceptual exploration that manifest

themselves in expanded telematic and cybernetic domains.