Re: RoboCity

Johannes Birringer (
Fri, 26 Jun 1998 03:45:45

Yacov Sharir wrote

Dear Comrades,
I wanted to announce the opening of RoboCity at the Austin Children Museum.
Selected through a referral and interviewing process,
>the student artists created an interactive world
>for Museum visitors to explore which includes cyberhumans, robots,
>interactive intelligent lighting, and MIDI interactive surfaces.
>... will be utilized to introduce
>educators to new uses of science and technology in exploring social studies
>and arts content and process.

I am admittedly a bit tired, and it's hot here in Texas.
I visited the whimsical RoboCity in the Children Museum, and just read the
technical description published here. As you gathered, this is not a dance
installation, but an interactive space with robotic toys, some of them
whimsical, others plainly functionalist (push here, "step on me", push
there) and dreadful. Lots of metal hanging around (figures constructed from
discarded motherboard fragments). I fail to see the educational sense, and
have no clue as to artistic content and intention. The "RoboSkunk" was
lying on its back, batteries empty. Laser lights were flashing. The piano
keys played when you twisted some stuffed toy animal's nose.

This is alarming, Yacov, if you seriously use this toy-shop to "explore
social studies and arts content and process."

But then again, I enjoyed my walk around the museum for children. It was
interesting to see that computers are in nearly every room and corner,
where the little ones learn about life-worlds and shopping-worlds.


Johannes Birringer