The art of robot whispering
- An algorithm that paints, a humanoid artist or the particle accelerator in the Louvre are examples of how technology is making major strides into the art world
- Madeline Gannon, a lecturer in a Masterclass by SEAT at the SONAR+D, is developing forms of communication with robots through body language
- The robot whisperer visits a car factory for the first time, the SEAT plant in Martorell, which has more than 2,000 robots
This is the first time I've ever been in a car factory surounded by so many robots and I feel like a kid in a candy store. It's very exciting to see all these machines working around me. Walking around the factory and seeing them collaborate at the same time to make something as complex as a car is quite incredible. Until now I've worked with them in laboratories, never on such a large scale as this. The entire building is like one big three-dimensional robot.
Where and how do art, innovation and technology meet?
As we move into the future, robots are becoming a fundamental part of our everyday lives. As an artist, designer and researcher I want to find ways to demonstrate that not only are they useful, but that they can also be a meaningful part of our lives. And that's where art comes in, to explore the preferred future scenarios that machines can offer.
I develop forms of communication through body language, to create a connection between us and machines. When I work with a robot, I'm aiming to surprise people. We all have expectations with regard to what they do, and I want to demonstrate that there are many different ways of using this amazing technology, not only for automation but also as a way to expand and increase human capabilities.
What do you see in a robot?
I see them as beings with mechanical minds and muscles. When I look at this group of robots welding car bodies they remind me of ants working with a common goal.
Thanks to your work, you've been nicknamed the robot whisperer…
I love my nickname! For me, it means not only talking to them, but especially listening to them. Through my work, I hope that more people get involved in robotics, art and technology and that maybe there are more robot whisperers somewhere in the world.
It was amazing watching them work and seeing all the tools added to them that help them perform their tasks. Now my head is full of ideas for even more creative and artistic installations. The visit has inspired me for my next project, a collection of robots in my home in Pittsburgh, the capital of robotics in the USA. It's my dream home, full of all kinds of machines to play and interact with as soon as I get up in the morning.
Madeline Gannon is a leading global figure in creativity and technology to participate in the latest edition of Sonar+D in Barcelona. She conducted one of the nine Masterclass by SEAT sessions, a new learning format that puts creative talent at the centre of innovation challenges. To view the content, visit the Sonar+D webpage.
- They operate in perfect synchronisation 24 hours a day
- They coordinate with 1,700 employees to make one car chassis every 68 seconds
- Some measure up to 6 metres high and can handle 700 kg of weight
- They have six axes and can swivel up to 720º
- A robot can perform up to 16,000 welding spots every day
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