Machine-augmented environments

Petra Gemeinboeck


Rob Saunders


Petra Gemeinboeck, in collaboration with Rob Saunders

Zwischenräume develops an autonomous sculptural practice that embeds robots into the architectural fabric of a gallery. It is the first installation in a series of works that explore the anatomical trauma of a machine augmented environment and its performative potential.

Embedded into walls, the robots produce cracks, holes and scars to survey, collaborate, provoke, conspire, and intervene. Each machine assembly interacts and networks with the other machines by re-sculpting its environment. The work adopts methods from urban combat and anti-terrorist visual intelligence to construct an autonomous environment that is intrinsically motivated to look at and study the temporary inhabitants, and develop strategies on how to attract attention, provoke and conspire. The architectural fabric becomes the medium for the agents’ communication and intervention.

The aim of this robotic sculptural practice is to attach a process to the environment, rather than creating a machine spectacle. The installation injects itself, disturbs and transforms our environment. Yet this disturbance is not a trace manifesting a transformative event in the past. Rather, the process of injecting itself is ongoing as the machine-augmented environment evolves based on mutual perturbations between the material conditions of the space and the movements and actions of its inhabitants and the adaptive behaviours of the machines agents.

Zwischenräume has been developed with the support of a COFA Faculty Research Grant and a New Work Grant from the Medienkunstbeirat (Media Arts Board) of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture, and has been exhibited at the Schauraum Angewandte at the MuseumsQuartier 21, Vienna, in June 2010.