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Tokyo gallery showcases robots as art (photos)

Tokyo's NTT InterCommunication Center has two shows featuring robots as art, and, in some cases, artists.

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Tim Hornyak
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1 of 8 Ryuichi Maruo (YCAM)

Robot arm cameras

Robot arm cameras hang from the ceiling in Mikami Seiko's dizzying installation "Desire of Codes," now showing at the NTT InterCommunication Center (ICC) in Tokyo.

The large installation consists of 6 cameras on robot arms and 90 wall-mounted moving sensors (of which 15 are mini-cameras) that respond to the presence of visitors and move toward them somewhat like a swarm of mosquitoes.

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2 of 8 Ryuichi Maruo (YCAM)

"Desire of Codes"

The large circular projection in "Desire of Codes" is a pastiche of video footage, multifaceted like an insect's eye. The videos include footage captured in public places around the world and shots from within the installation space itself. The clips are very short and overlap, creating a disorienting effect.
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3 of 8 Ryuichi Maruo (YCAM)

Wide-angle shot

This wide-angle shot of "Desire of Codes" shows the robot camera arms and the circular projection. According to ICC, the work asks "What new desires do we have, now that we live in an information-oriented environment and have perceptions shaped by that environment?"
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4 of 8 Tim Hornyak/CNET

Computer behind the artwork

This display outside the entrance to Mikami Seiko's "Desire of Codes" represents what the computer behind the artwork is doing. The graphic blocks represent video shot inside and outside the installation, and you can see the algorithm in real time selecting which ones to project.

"Desire of Codes" runs through December 12 at ICC in Tokyo and will then travel around the world.

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5 of 8 David Bowen

"Tele-present water"

Included in the recently opened "Open Space 2011" show at the ICC gallery is David Bowen's "Tele-present water," a robotic work that conveys the actual flow of waves in lakes and oceans. A overhead pulley system that suspends a moving mesh recreates the g-forces and acceleration of wave patterns. The work is like a giant marionette portraying water.

Depending on the actual weather at the sensor location, the grid can be calm or rough. It won't make you seasick, though.

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6 of 8 David Bowen

"Sonar Drawing Device"

Bowen's "Sonar Drawing Device," from 2003, draws with a wax crayon based on data from its sonar detector, which picks up people and objects in the immediate vicinity.

Each of these robo-drawings is unique to the time and place where it's being exhibited.

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7 of 8 David Bowen

"Phototropic Drawing Device"

David Bowen's "Phototropic Drawing Device" also creates art with robotics. A small, solar-powered robot moves around under various lamps and is attracted to the brightest. As it moves, a piece of charcoal attached to it traces its journey, producing beautiful circular compositions.
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8 of 8 Tim Hornyak/CNET

"Pixel Forest"

Although not robotic, Yusuke Shigeta's "Pixel Forest" is a very amusing part of "Open Space 2011" at ICC. It's basically a darkened room with two ceiling projectors streaming '80s-style game graphics onto the floor. Visitors pick up books full of blank pages and hold them up to see a low-res fairy tale unfolding. There are knights marching about, demons jumping around, and even a Gulliver tied to the ground.

"Open Space 2011" runs through March 18, 2012 at NTT InterCommunication Center in Tokyo.

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