No Escape, Robot
Creatures, BFA Thesis
Tjaden Gallery, Cornell University

As a technologically advanced society, we are witnessing the increasingly complex integration of technology with our lifestyles and daily activities. Automobiles, planes, trains, television, radio, and many other devices have all become common place in just the past 100 years. Although these advances add to our individual power and ability to survive, they also make us more dependent on technology. This piece is an expression of that inescapable dependence.

The aging robot, made of steel, motors and wires, is connected to its control board by an unbreakable cord, slowly and grudgingly backs away in an effort to escape its dependence on "thought". This robot it not a polished, finely tuned machine built on new technology in its infancy. Rather, it is an expression of aging and the process of decay which leads to a deeper appreciation of ones limited place in the world. As self-reflective beings, humans are capable of questioning the value of pure thought and logic. Will robots be able to reflect on the limitations of their own logic?

Sculptural Details

No Escape, Robot is constructed of welded and assembled steel. Eight toy rubber balls are used as feet. The 1-amp AC motors, used in automotive windows, allow the robot to move piston-like legs. The wires, added last, and fitted to run up the legs and the backbone to the head. The control system is a custom made relay system (Teledyne 110V 1-amp relays), using an 80486 computer as input.

Programming & Behavior

The robot slowly backs away from its control system in a jerky, unpredictable manner - suggesting an inability to escape its own technical limitations. From a software persepctive, unpredicatble behavior is created through a simple, rule-based systems which gives rise to complex behavior. These programs, written in BASIC, are less than 100 lines of code, yet give rise to spontaneous behavior. The 150 lb., 8-legged robot slowly backs into the far wall and must be dragged back to the center of the room.