iaa contact on Wed, 25 Aug 1999 02:51:37 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Robotic Insurrection in Philadelphia Streets

Robotic Insurrection in Philadelphia Streets

August 13, 1999


On August 10 and 11, the Institute for Applied Autonomy (I.A.A.) 
successfully conducted a series of performances as part of itıs latest
research initiative, Rogueıs Gallery, at several locations in the city of
Philadelphia.  This project utilizes GraffitiWriter, a teleoperated robot
developed by the I.A.A. which is capable of spraypainting text messages on
the ground at speeds of 10 - 15 mph. 

Rogueıs Gallery transforms public space into critical sites for free
speech and public discourse, while simultaneously transforming ordinary
citizens into petty criminals.  Under the guise of ³performance art,²
I.A.A.  operatives make GraffitiWriter available to members of the general
public, who use the robot to spraypaint personal messages on the ground.
I.A.A.  agents act only as facilitators - both the message content and the
actual operation of GraffitiWriter is left in the hands of "civilians." 

The I.A.A. performed Rogueıs Gallery at locations throughout Philadelphia,
including Rittenhouse Square, Clark Park, Fairmount Park, the Philadelphia
Museum of Art, and at various sites in Center City.  Message writers
included construction workers, a homeless man, and a girl scout troop, in
addition to various representatives of the general public.  No one was

³By making GraffitiWriter publicly available,² said I.A.A. associate Kay
Saracera, ³we accomplish several goals.  On the one hand, we are
encouraging people to be expressive, to share their thoughts with their
communities.  Secondly, we are exploring the possibilities of using new
technologies to create public spectacles which can alter peopleıs
conception of the world around them.  If we were to go into a park and
hand people cans of spraypaint, no one would write anything because weıve
been conditioned to believe that graffiti is destructive - not to mention
illegal.  However, by using a robot, it suddenly seems acceptable behavior
to paint all over the ground. In a sense, we are using the robot to
create, at least temporarily, a space for free action and expression in
the middle of the city, and in broad daylight.²

³Weıre also making a statement about freedom of expression, and public
space,² said I.A.A. hothead John Henry. ³Public space is rapidly
disappearing in this country, replaced instead by shopping malls, theme
parks, and gated communities - Œmembersı onlyı clubs with their own laws
and enforcement, where any form of public dissent or political protest is
strictly forbidden.  Rather than contest this space, the left has jumped
ship, naively placing its hopes on the internet as a kind of utopian
dreamscape, in which anyone can say anything they want.  But the freedom
to speak is meaningless without the possibility of being heard.  In other
words, freedom of expression requires that we have the opportunity to get
in each otherıs faces once in awhile - it canıt come with an off switch. 
Free speech is fundamentally a real-world phenomenon, and unless we demand
the right to say what we want, where we want, public discourse will become
little more than public masturbation². 

³Besides,² added I.A.A. member Luther Blisset, ³lawbreaking is cool!²

³Itıs completely absurd... it makes perfect sense,² commented an
unidentified onlooker. 

The Institute for Applied Autonomy is an independent arts and technology
research organization, committed to the study of individual and collective
self-determination and to the development of technologies which further
these goals.  Additional performances of Rogueıs Gallery are planned for
the upcoming months at several undisclosed locations. 

For additional information, or to request images for reproduction, email
the Institute for Applied Autonomy at iaa_media@yahoo.com. 

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo@bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime@bbs.thing.net