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Adrianne Wortzel Previews The Sentient Thespian at Pioneer Works

Newsletter sent on Tuesday, 23 April 2019
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On April 14th, robotics resident Adrianne Wortzel gave a sneak preview of her film The Sentient Thespian at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn.

The Sentient Thespian

This humorous and poignant short film explores an irritable and conniving four-legged robot’s intrigues with both a fellow 15-foot industrial robotic arm, and its human interlocutor.Based on elements of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, the film delves into technological transformations and humanity’s quandary on how best to advance towards this new 4th industrial revolution.

The film, shot on location at the Consortium for Research & Robotics was hosted by the Pratt Institute in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and features their 16ft tall industrial robotic arm. It also features a spider-like non-humanoid robot called MekaMon, manufactured by Reach Robotics in the UK.

Director of Photography Kevin Barry says, “Our aim is to highlight how humans assign sentience to non-sentient machines. Working with robots allows us to explore psychology as it relates to emerging technologies, which really brings home how important it is for humans to see ourselves in the technologies we interact with.

A full write-up of the project is published on the ThoughtWorks Arts website. And a recent article by TechSPARK highlighting the collaboration with Reach Robotics can be read here. The Sentient Thespian is the first of a planned trilogy of films by Wortzel featuring MekaMon, to be titled Golemopolis.

Robotics projects presented at Pioneer Works Second Sundays

Resident Catie Cuan also presented the results of her recent robotics and motion residency at ThoughtWorks Arts including CONCAT, part of her larger OUTPUT project.

Kira Davies and Catie Cuan at Pioneer Works

Catie Cuan is a dancer and roboticist whose practice examines how human-robot communications can be interpreted while progressing towards 21st century robot ubiquity. She is currently enrolled in the PhD program at Stanford University in Mechanical Engineering.

Catie collaborated with ThoughtWorks developers to create a 3D visualization toolkit enabling her to rehearse her movements alongside those of different robots.

Choreographer Kira Davies, ThoughtWorks Arts director, Andrew McWilliams, and Catie Cuan at Pioneer Works during project OUTPUT
Choreographer Kira Davies, ThoughtWorks Arts director, Andrew McWilliams, and Catie Cuan at Pioneer Works during project OUTPUT

The OUTPUT project is nearing completion. A teaser can be viewed here.

Hardware Hack Lab Now Equipped With Depthkit Support

With the success and interest generated during our free Depthkit workshop in conjunction with Scatter in March, and our funded Volumetric Filmmaking residency starting in June, we’ve initiated ongoing weekly support for learning and experimenting with Depthkit at the free Hardware Hack Lab. Our aim is to make Depthkit technology and toolkits more accessible, and to help foster diverse collaborations for those who may not have the financial means to otherwise access these innovative and exciting technologies.

A team from the Volumetric Filmmaking Workshop testing Depthkit at ThoughtWorks
A team from the Volumetric Filmmaking Workshop testing Depthkit at ThoughtWorks

These weekly events have attracted hackers and filmmakers of all backgrounds who test ideas and partner on projects.

Hardware Hack Lab is open to the public every Wednesday from 6:30pm - 9:30pm, located at ThoughtWorks Inc. 99 Madison Ave, 15th floor, New York, NY.

News From Past ThoughtWorks Arts Residents

Moon Ribas will be a juror for this year’s Prix Ars Electronica.

Heather Dewey-Hagborg co-curated Refiguring The Future, a politically engaged exhibition focusing on inclusion, and how the intersection of art, science and technology is an explicitly key force in radical change. This was REFRESH’s inaugural exhibition, which received a Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant.

Updates From Art-A-Hack™ Alumni

Tyler Parker had a debut as a tenor in Frederick Fleet in The Village Light Opera Group presents: TITANIC the Musical!

Rena Anakwe presents The Cosmology Of Water, an interactive performance, during her residency at Issue Project Room.

Sharon de la Cruz was a guest speaker and educator at Processing Community Day at Medios Interactivos USFQ.

Filip Baba is running a community XR jam on April 26 at RLab, a warehouse-sized venue which is the first city-funded VR/AR center in the country.

Presentations

Andrew McWilliams will present RIOT: Recognizing Human Facial Expressions In A Climate Of Fear for a lightnig talk at Creative Tech Week NYC on May 10th at 3pm.

Publications

Andrew McWilliams, Ellen Pearlman, and Catie Cuan: OUTPUT: Translating Robot and Human Movers Across Platforms in a Sequentially Improvised Performance - From the 2019 AISB (The Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour) Machine Movement Lab at Falmouth University, UK.

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