David Calkins, Robotics Society of America
What is an ArtBot?
By David Calkins, President
Robotics Society of America

Defining the term "robot" is a lot like trying to define "art" Combine the two and you're sure to annoy a pedant or two, but when you're inspiring a few hundred, who cares what an English major from Yale thinks?

Everyone loves art in some form, but I'd hazard to say that just about everyone is transfixed by awe with machines.  Who doesn't love watching old steam engines or the mechanics of a clock?  Machine art is a pleasure to watch, since it's not only beauty, but beauty in motion.

Most machine artists design their creations to be interactive, and that's what makes us even more drawn to them.  Try touching a painting in MOMA and see how long before an overweight security guard starts screaming at you. Going to an art-bot or machine-art show is like walking into a big toy room. You get to play with stuff and watch it move.  Often times it's even a little dangerous (Fire - we love fire!), and that adds to the joy of going to a show.
  • Watch out for the steel claws of doom!  
  • Push the red button and see what happens!  
  • Sit on the rocket chair and hold on tight!  
  • Watch as the fire spewing flame organ lights up the sky!  
  • Open the box and prepare for a surprise!  
  • Set the pins, pull the wire, and make your own music!
I love machine art because I get to play with it.  And it gets to play with me.  It's interactive.  It's never the same.  It surprises me.  It's raw and unrefined and it's what I make of it, which is what all art should be.  It's not something static.  It's dynamic and changing.  It has parts that move.

And they in turn move me.

Do you enjoy showing off your various scars for beer? Does the thought of restoring a 1920s-era mirror ball make your tingle? Do you carry around a slide show of your burst eardrum operation just for kicks?

Oh, Good.

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