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  • © 2018 So Kanno

Excellence Award



Media installation [Japan]

Organically producing rhythms with 60 small, self-propelled robots, an installation inspired by the synchro- nization seen in swarming organisms like fireflies. In swarming, individuals’ communication effects group move- ment in unison. While unseeable with lifeforms, this work uses laser com- munication to make the networks vis- ible here. In response to each other’s laserbeams, the robots synchronous- ly produce striking sounds to give the viewer a spatial sense of the ever- changing rhythms with their sounds and lights. As we sense beauty in the workings of nature, such as frog cho- ruses, bell cricket songs and avian murmurations, might one not be able to produce something comparably worthy of appreciation by artificial means as well? Inspired by the al- gorithms of natural phenomena, this work constitutes an experiment seek- ing new forms of expression by cre- ating algorithms that are not merely imitational, but original.

© 2018 So Kanno




Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, 1985.

( 2019 )

Award Reason

Original swarming behavior produced by mutually-sensing robots exhibiting simple organization, autonomy and fixed looping. With 60 small, rotating robots that slowly propel themselves through a space of about 50 m2, the work makes visible their processes of gradual divergence from initial synchronization along with eventual returns to synchronization. With in- termittent firing of lasers, mechanical keystrokes produce sounds simulta- neously. Optical sensing produces further laserbeam / sound combina- tions to impressively effect a surpris- ing range of dynamic variation and periods of silence in the work via chain reactions. Artificial life program- ming has simulated swarming before, yet the use of physical objects here yields inestimable liveliness and ex- pressivity. From the selection of com- ponentry to the robotics crafting and system design, all is of a level that speaks to the artist’s meticulous and persistent capacity for research. And what, I wonder, might result if repro- duced with 600 robots?(ABE Kazunao)

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