of Visionary System; to Misha A. Crest and Explanator for
Most Versatile; and to FH Joanneum’s student-built Urinator
for Most Realistic Depiction Of A Robot Penis (no, you don’t
want to know).
The panel of officials also drew attention to what they
referred to as “meager achievement:” those entries that
stood out among the other entries not for any good points
they might have had, but for the lameness of the entry. The
recipients were awarded limes. David Fine’s installation “The
Prisoner’s Dilemma” was given the comment “Installation is
a construction site.” Bre Pettis’ “R.R. Shot Bot” was unfinished,
the “BF Ice Cube Gun” was upbraided for vodka theft and
militaristic behavior, and FH Joanneum’s “Urinator” had an
unappetizing delivery. Johannes Grezfurthner’s “Kalkohol:
The Producer” was cited with the note “Causing floods is
not an achievement.” And finally, Adrian Dabrowski’s
Bic-O-Mat was awarded a lime for not showing up.
RoboExotica 2007 was not without its other mishaps.
The winner of the Fire and Smoke category — El Espanol
Borracho — offered up a stunning display when the
flamethrower got stuck in the ‘on’ position and lit both its
creator and the floor on fire. Luckily, there were no injuries,
as bystanders were laughing too hard to douse the flames
When it was repaired, ESB made excellent Spanish Coffees.
With a press of ESB’s Big Red Button, Kahlua and a sweetened coffee mixture were poured into a rocks glass, and a
small shot of the Austrian liqueur Stroh 80 was floated over
the top. Many would-be drinkers were warned away from
grabbing their drink prematurely, as the final touch is a
three second burst of butane/propane flame to add “flavor.”
Johannes Grenzfurtner’s piece, “Kalcohol: The Provider”
also experienced a slight malfunction when 40 liters of
Screwdriver (vodka and orange juice) ended up on the floor
and in the face of an unlucky (lucky?) participant. The
motorized cement mixer serving as part of the piece
accidentally dumped its load in an incident that was
reminiscent of aromatic, alcoholic waterboarding. Some
witnesses went for paper towels, others just got on hands
The Cocktail Jackpot —
spin the wheel, win a prize
— works every time.
RoboFriends were fetching drinks
according to RFID tags on their tray
tops. They were mostly successful.
and knees and started licking. Disaster was averted when
the flow was stopped just before it reached the electrical
panels in the floor.
The Symposium took place during the day and was
thoughtfully attended by many participants, despite the
debauchery that tended to occur each evening. The talks
added an interesting philosophical aspect to RoboExotica,
as the presentations were not necessarily about robotics,
but dealt with human and technological interaction in general.
Jens Ohlig, Chaos Computer Club member and monochrom
correspondent, gave a talk that discussed using Markov
chains to write literature so human beings wouldn’t have
to. (For example, wouldn’t it be better if this article were
written by a robot? We think so.) The Markov property is a
mathematical concept that loosely says that for a given
changing system, the next state of the system depends on
the present state of the system, but not on the previous
states. This was applied to code and made for a great talk.
Cory Doctorow gave a fine talk on the subject of how
singularity and science fiction in general are a better tool
for understanding the present than they are as an actual
predictive tool, as well as why the coming era of uploading
human minds into the ether is a compelling idea. On the
same consciousness theme, monochrom artist-in-residence
David Fine declared that for his talk, he was as much an
expert on consciousness, being a conscious, sentient human
being, as anyone else in the forum full on conscious human
beings. Therefore, his talk was an unstructured discussion
on the nature of consciousness, consciousness and
technology, consciousness and art, and other matters which
make the weak-hearted want to be unconscious.
Other talks included MAKE magazine’s Bre Pettis speaking on The Apocalyptic Utopia, Metroblogging.com’s Sean
Bonner discussing the inmate taking over the asylum (that
is, citizen journalism and the World Wide Web), and
Alexander Edelhofer presenting in German about the effects
of geographical environment and industrial landscapes,
using the band Joy Division as a theoretical example. To
hear audio of each talk (some in German, some in English),
please visit www.roboexotica.org/en/audio.htm.
RoboExotica also featured a Film Brunch where
participants congregated on Sunday to drown their
hangovers in strong coffee and cult science fiction. The
powers that-be screened the classic mini-dystopian film
Demon Seed, about a researcher’s wife imprisoned in her
robotic house and forced to bear the machine’s child.
RoboExotica 2007 was successful for the organizers,
the participants, and especially the audience, which was
excited to participate in such a singular event. The
amount of international press was impressive, and
teamwork was the order of the day for everything from
conference organization to coffee making. Anticipation
is building for the 10th anniversary of RoboExotica in
November 2008 and if it’s anything like this year, we’ll be
buying our tickets and getting a helmet sooner rather
than later. SV
From www.shifz.com/2007/11/acra-90-winners_ 25.html .
36 SERVO 06.2008