Nathan Reynolds/Week 3/Industrial Age, Kinetic Art, Robotics

*NOTE* I was not enrolled in this class for the first three weeks of winter quarter.  I am simply doing these assignments to say that I completed everything.  I do not expect a grade for them as they are horrendously late otherwise.

The study of robotics is proving to be a very promising field of research as newer and more compact technology is made available.  Also, the know-how for building robots is becoming more and more common, with children still in grade school designing robots with limited, but very capable artificial intelligences.  As the frontier of knowledge expands, so does the ability of the machines created.  It is now common for us to look at a site such as Youtube and find several hundred videos pertaining to dancing robots, and just as many relating to other robot characteristics.  As we learn more about robots, the more advanced they become.

With the exception of Theo Jansen’s machines.

Theo Jansen is a Kinetic Sculptor who uses his technical genius to build what are commonly known as “beach beasts,” walking machines composed of nothing more than plastic components.  Although the Beach Beasts accomplish very little in terms of return on investment, they are intriguing to watch nonetheless simply because of their almost natural behaviors.

Theo Jansen stands in front of his creation, the Rhino.  Although it weighs a few tons, the design is efficient enough for Theo Janen to push it across the ground.

Theo Jansen stands in front of his creation, the Rhino. Although it weighs a few tons, the design is efficient enough for Theo Janen to push it across the ground.

Theo Jansen uses seemingly complex designs which are actually very simple at their fundamental level.  His designs manifest themselves in these Beach Beasts which display increasingly capable intelligences.  The design itself is so efficient that the machines can be moved by the wind, using their own computer capacities to navigate.  Jansen’s goal is to perfect the technology behind the creatures to the point where they can navigate the beaches of the Netherlands where they are built.  These machines accomplish no practical purpose, nor do they help humanity in any way.  However, they are entrancing; capturing everyone’s attention and captivating the imaginations of the individuals interested in them.

 

            Concerning robotics discussed earlier, the Beach Beasts represent a slow progression towards truly autonomous AI.  In a world of intricacies, where machines are expected to be complex and difficult to manufacture, Theo Jansen provides a rather refreshing counterexample to the whole scenario.  They are simple, yet innovative; a basic, but futuristic, and a herald for the ages to come.

 This creature only needs a gust of air to cause it to casually stroll down the beach.  Theo Jansens goal is to have these machines roam in packs, like heards of wild animals.

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