Sunday, March 22, 2009

SXSW: Dorkbot

You would think that everyone at an event with a name like Dorkbot would be fond of technology. Certainly the presence of the Robot Group could lead you to think that. Almost fooled me! I saw an interesting sculpture, and assumed it was interactive, like everything else there, only at that time it wasn't interacting with anything. I would have never found out what it signified, if I hadn't run into Silona, who was standing next to it and chatting with its creator, a guy of mediterranean looks and vaguely european accent. So I stopped to chat with the artist as well. He said he was actually against "these guys", meaning the robo-geeks. Not only his sculpture didn't have a techno-element, its whole point was to illustrate a thesis that "technology is a virus". Now that I've been told, I saw it really resembled a virus. The body of the sculpture was made out of wood, perhaps a tree branch. The head was studded with various spiky techno junk -- old light bulbs, thingamabobs and such. They were very definitely not going to blink. I wonder if this artist felt like a sole fundamentalist Christian protester at a gay parade, or what. :-)

Then I saw people doing something I've previously heard about, but haven't seen with my own eyes: playing iPhone like a flute. Here's a short video of an iPhone duet.

Overall, though, I didn't see many new exhibits at Dorkbot. By "new" I mean something I haven't seen at every event where Robot Group is present. That includes local science fiction conventions (e.g. ArmadilloCon), Maker Faire, and some SXSW events, such as Plutopia party. I even wondered if it will make any sense to go Maker Faire this year -- will I really see anything new? Not that I blame the Robot Group for not coming up with new things several times a month. Their interactive art pieces are still amazing when you see them for the first time, as I'm sure many out-of-town visitors to SXSW did. I just have a mixed blessing of living in a town where they frequently exhibit their creations.

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