Lichtsuchende: Exploring the Emergence of a Cybernetic Society
In this paper, we describe Lichtsuchende, an interactive installation, built using a society of biologically inspired, cybernetic creatures who exchange light as a source of energy and a means of communication. Visitors are invited to engage with the installation using torches to influence and interact with the phototropic robots. As well as describing the finished piece, we explore some of the issues around creating works based on biologically inspired robots. We present an account of the development of the creatures in order to highlight the gulfs between conceptual ideas of how to allow emergent behaviours and the manners in which they are implemented. We also expose the interrelations and tensions between the needs of the creatures as they emerge and the needs of the creators, to understand the duet between the cyber-organisms and their initiators. Finally, we look at the ways in which creators, robots and visitors are enrolled to perform their functions, so that the network of activity can be woven between all parties.
This work is supported under SOCIAM: The Theory and Practice of Social Machines, a programme funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) under grant number EP/J017728/1, and a collaboration between the Universities of Edinburgh, Oxford, and Southampton.
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