Chris Chesher

Describe yourself: Who you are and what you're doing?
I am an academic in the Digital Cultures Program in the Arts Faculty at the University of Sydney. Through connections at the other side of the University I've become fascinated by the emerging cluster of technologies and cultural forms known as robots. I'm working on some essays on some themes on how (and whether) robots can be considered as media. I've been writing a blog on some of these themes called As well as spending time at the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, I visited Seoul, Korea for Robotworld. I'm hoping to visit more robots soon.

How did your interest in robots / robotics start?
My interest in robotics was ignited by contact with the new media artist Mari Velonaki, and engineer collaborator David Rye. They have developed a number of projects using robotic technologies to create art pieces and installations. Their most substantial collaboration, 'Fish Bird', uses electric wheelchairs that perform a strange dance with visitors. The space is rigged with sensors that trace the position of all actors in the space. It redefined robots and media art.

Blind snake! NTREX Snake Robot at Robotworld 2010.

What kind of actions needs to be done in the community to increase the interest and the awareness of robots / robotics?
Taking an actor network theory approach to robotics, all new technologies tend to accumulate a heterogeneous array of attachments to other actors: identities (weapon; rescuer; companion; artwork; worker; cleaner); other technical components; narratives (SkyNet; earthquake rescuing; bomb defusing; Mars rovering); advocates (governments; entrepreneurs; websites) and so on. The more (and the more varied and valorised) these attachments are, the more that the technology becomes real. In some ways, the very diversity of robot applications - the many ways that singular arrangements of sensors, processors and actuators can be mobilised - has made it difficult for robotics to stabilise a single identity or location.


[source: Vive Les Robots!]

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Chris Chesher

Chris Chesher is an academic in the Digital Cultures Program in the Arts Faculty at the University of Sydney.