Human Use of Human Beings

Human Use of Human Beings

  • 2013
  • Musical Robotic Installation
  • Description

    In his 1950 text titled The Human Use of Human Beings, Norbert Wiener—one of the founders of Cybernetics—argued for a Utopia in which an evolved relationship between humans and machines expanded the consciousness of both parties. An avid advocate of automation, Wiener foresaw a world in which expanded collaboration among humans and machines relieved humans of treacherous and repetitive tasks, thereby creating more opportunities for creative and intellectually stimulating activities. Wiener was also deeply concerned with information theory and its relevance to the human-machine relationship. He proposed that while the physical world leans towards greater randomness (the laws of thermodynamics and ever-increasing entropy), communication essentially negates randomness—negentropy. Wiener ‘s ideas not only laid the foundation for the field of artificial intelligence, it defined a trajectory of intellectual practice that was inherently interdisciplinary, concurrently humanistic and technocentric, and politically charged from the onset.

    In response to the roots of cybernetics and artificial intelligence and their implications today, Meier and Momeni create a musical and gestural language for a colony of sound-making robots. Their autonomous robots are aware of their surroundings through a variety of sensors, communicate with one another wirelessly, and diffuse sound. Each robot has a range of gestural and musical behaviors whose subtleties rely on environmental parameters and the state of its comrade robots. Their collective movements and emergent behaviors allow the artists to explore the blurry lines of work and leisure, repetition and improvisation, fate and free will, as well as communication and solitude.

  • Acknowledgements

    This project is collaboratively conceived and executed by Ali Momeni and Robin Meier.

    • Robotic Hardware design by Ali Momeni
    • Electronics design by Brandon Ball and Ali Momeni
    • Sound Design by Robin Meier