Interacting with Non-anthropomorphic Robotic Artworks and Interpreting Their Behaviour


Art installations involving robotic artifacts provide an opportunity to examine human relationships with robots designed solely for the purpose of sustaining evocative behaviours. In an attempt to determine the behavioural characteristics and personality traits attributed by a human to a robotic artifact, we investigated an audience’s experience of an installation that presented three robotic artifacts moving autonomously in an exhibition space. In order to describe the audience’s experience, we present two studies that revealed the psychological attributions spontaneously produced from observing the robots, and visitors’ physical exploration patterns inside the exhibition. We propose a psychological profile for the artwork, and a tentative organization for the attribution process. Using a cluster analysis performed on visitors’ trajectories inside the installation, we highlight four different exploration and interaction heuristics characterized by patterns of approach or withdrawal, passive observation and exploration.

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We would like to thank Céleste Boursier-Mougenot and the Abattoirs team for kindly letting us investigate the installation. This study was made possible with the help of Naoko Abe. The research was developed as part of a collaboration with the ENSADLAB Reflective Interaction team (directed by Samuel Bianchini), The Centre Georges Pompidou and the university Paris 8, inside the “Behaviors of Things” research program (program manager: Emanuele Quinz) supported, through the Labex Arts-H2H, by Investissements d’Avenir (ANR-10-LABX-80-01) of the French National Research Agency (ANR). We are especially grateful to Emanuele Quinz and Samuel Bianchini for introducing us to the domain of behavioral artworks in contemporary art, and for giving us the opportunity to develop the study proposed in this article.

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Correspondence to Florent Levillain.

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Levillain, F., Zibetti, E. & Lefort, S. Interacting with Non-anthropomorphic Robotic Artworks and Interpreting Their Behaviour. Int J of Soc Robotics 9, 141–161 (2017).

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  • Human-robot interaction
  • Behaviour
  • Non-anthropomorphic robot
  • Agency
  • Contemporary art