I remember once in Trinity when I was an engineering student having a long and isolated evening trying to argue a case that there is beautiful art in software programming – and in all engineering disciplines – with a skeptical but distinguished professor of history and fellow humanities students. I explained that software can be incredibly wonderful architected, but of course only the cognoscente – ie software developers, but not mere mortals – can appreciate so. But on the other hand most mere mortals can appreciate the visual arts, good music and literature even if they have not had specialist training. I came away glad I had a flame suit, but it was a fun tease anyway.
The Science Gallery focuses on the confluence of science and technology with art and discovery. This weekend we are hosting ArtBots – the Robot Talent Show, as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival. I went along to the opening last night – it was pretty busy – and really enjoyed some of the more artistic entrants.
On walking in, you are met by Rubot II, which was a centre of attraction for many of the teenagers there, and impressive if not particularly artistic. But close to Rubot, you can hear and see what a 6 metre length of vibrating and oscillating steel band looks like in the Storm and 6 Bands. I really liked the Rechnender Raum, an inverted dynamic machine in which its computations are sent to its centre. What Is It Without The Hand That Wields It was little gruesome, weeping blood every time a player was injured in Counter-Strike Source. I really liked Gossamer-1 with the intricate patterns it layered in response to the ambient sounds in the exhibit.
Ray Lee gave an astonishing orchestral performance of robotic music entitled Force Field as he conducted, and played virtual instruments. By moving his hands – air guitar like – he could pluck strings, play chords, and assemble a rhythmical cacophony of harmonies and melodies – quite amazing. Unfortunately however his only concert was last night, and so if you missed it, well you’ll have to wait until next time.
There are fifteen exhibits altogether, together with play areas where you can build your own robots. Entrance, as is our policy is free. On the flip side, the exhibition is only running this weekend and finishes tomorrow evening: we have to meet the costs of having the exhibitor engineers and artists be with us in Dublin.
So, if you are in Dublin this weekend, do hop on the DART and go explore the show. Its great to be able to show the public that there is art in software, science and engineering :-)..
Postscript: some photos from the show are here.