I attended the opening of Ken Rinaldo http://www.kenrinaldo.com/ & Matt Howard's Autotelematic Spider Bots show at Sunderland Museum & Winter Garden on Tuesday 7th March, 2006. The opening was really well attended. Almost too much so - I reckon all the activity on the sidelines was confusing the bots and it was really difficult to hear them communicating with one another. As the evening wore on and folks moved on to Andy Gracie & Brian Rowe's Autoinducer PH-1 (at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art) it was easier to hear them 'twittering like birds'. There seemed to be some teething problems with batteries running low - the bots didn't seem to want to stay at the feeding station to charge themselves up - I guess all the people waving things at them was kind of distracting. The bots themselves are amazingly elegant in their motion - more so than organic spiders that have that 'alien' quality to them.
From the position of the audience it is not immediately apparent what actions are triggering the behaviour of the bots and most people there just seemed happy that they were moving around. There are deeper levels of interaction between the bots, their environment and their audience that I think would only become apparent with more time than was available at the opening - definately an opportunity to play at being David Attenborough.
In 1966 Carl Andre wrote
'The course of development - sculpture as form; sculpture as structure; sculpture as place'.
As designed objects the Spider Bots are exemplary harbingers of the next evolutionary leap - sculpture as semi-autonomous entities.
The structure of the bots is amazing and equally impressive is the $50,000 of donated rapid-manufactured parts from http://www.laserrepro.com/ that it took to make them. The bots are also sponsored in-kind by http://www.parallax.com/
The Autotelematic Spider Bots will be at http://www.avfest.co.uk/ in Sunderland until 19th March. They will reappear in a solar-powered configuration later in the year in Sao Paulo, Brazil.