The fact that the machines are composed of real materials that must obey the laws of physics and mechanics is a foundation. It is a truth apart from me that helps keep the work honest. Like most machines that we use every day, the design is guided by a particular utilitarian need. Unlike most machines, the utility that guides me is the expression of a thought or feeling. In this way my sculptures are ambiguous and open-ended. This is important because I want the pieces to be catalysts for any observer to find his or her own meaning and truth.

“Thinking Chair” is a kind of self-portrait. There is a place in the woods not too far from my studio where I go to walk and think. For years I have paced in circles around a particular stone outcropping. It is comforting to walk in slow circles as every cycle brings new understanding and clarity.

“Margot’s Cat” came about while exploring physical dynamics with a computer simulation program. Imaginary objects in lunar gravity are quite easily set into motion. Their trajectories are delightful to behold. This machine is both a response to that daydream and a playful thought about Margot, having passed away, is still playing with one of her many cats.





The computer is a programmable machine that can store, retrieve, and process data. It is also a metamachine, a machine for creating virtual machines. Each time one starts a program on a computer, it is turned into a different virtual machine following different rules. These rules, a series of actions define a process. Processes appear at several levels in the computer. First, text instructions are formalised to define the inner mechanism of a system. These instructions are translated to a program through an interpretation process. Then the generated machine language rules set into motion resulting in a completed piece of software, a virtual machine. This software can also describe rules and artificial entities to follow them.

The work Machine/Process, rooted in the history of conceptual and process artworks, tries to explore the layers of machines and processes being present in a metamachine. The piece is a work of generative art in itself. It employs computational algorithms to create abstract geometric animations in real-time. The result is an animated, living environment created by continuously changing dynamic graphics. Furthermore, it also reveals the invisible, elusive inner working of virtual and real machines through the creation of a community of artificial agents.




Our goal was to create an interface that would allow both individual and multi-user interaction. as a reflection of human social behavior, we came up with the idea to create a group of separate, but similar interfaces that would behave as a group itself. Their internal communication became the centre of our focus creating an installation that - in it’s reactive behavior - emphasizes the visitor to consider their own actions and movements. As a result, communication - in whatever form - among the different visitors, young and old, is inevitable

Contiously choosing for installations without a manual we had to come up with a small number of defined rules which we linked directly to an auditive output. Although this direct connection, the visitors experience depends upon their own approach toward the ‘installation’ rather then on what we decided to happen. To us it was really important to get away from the ‘one-to-one interaction’, as we used in our previous work. No more: “i-do-this-which-causes-that”, as other visitors will influence the output just as much as you do.

Technicaly the dustbunnies are seven ball shaped, soft sculptures that contain a whole set of electronic components. And although we use some of the latest technology (as the zigbee communication system for example), all this is hidden as far as possible. It’s their guts and brains, but just like ours no fun to look at. Yet, we care about all the pluses and minuses cause it gives them a soul that gets reflected in their actions.

They have three main states of behavior, but several random generators in their code have to make them more unpredictable. The first state is their daily life ignoring humans. This is their true nature. While collecting dust, they murmur to each other in a language we don’t understand. Imperturbable it seems, but if you walk into their territory, they all become quiet and pretend dead. However, if they get used to your presence they will continue their routine.

So the only way to observe them in that first state is by becoming motionless yourself. In order to penetrate their mysterious world you have to give up some of your own personal freedom. If that’s out of question, you may try to reveal their secrets by taking a closer look. But be careful.! As soft as they look and feel; touching a dustbunny will cause a furious screaming by all members of the colony. The whole group will show their dislike. By doing so they stimulate a certain group exploration by the visitors. One person interacting will cause a total different reaction then a group intervention.

It’s obvious that the installation in being interactive somehow requests a certain passiveness from the visitors. You are on dustbunny territory here.!
Filled with knowledge and memories collected on their way, already looking for a new home. make them numb, sing or scream. It’s up to you! Have fun!




Autopoiesis is an artificial life robotic sculpture installation. It consists of 15 musical and robotic sculptures (4 for this exhibition) that interact with human participants in the exhibition as well as each other. Autopoiesis is “self making”, a characteristic of all living systems and these sculptures use the intercommunication between participants and each other to self-modify their behaviors. Artificial life is a programming technique that allows computer systems to evolve their behaviors over time, based on input from participants in the exhibition.

Infrared sensors at the top of the sculptures allow the sculptures to see and track your body heat and move toward you, while infrared sensors at the tip of each sculpture allow the robotic sculptures to avoid you. A custom built computer at the top of each sculpture and a central global computer on one of the sculptures allow the sculptures to both act as a group and show individual behaviors simultaneously.

This series of robotic sculptures talk with each other through audible telephone tones, which are a musical language for the group. Higher and more rapid telephone tones are associated with fear and the lower, more deliberate tonal sequences with relaxation and play. This group consciousness of sculptural robots manifests a cybernetic ballet of experience, with the computer/machine and viewer/participant involved in a grand dance of one sensing and responding to the other.
Materials: cabernet sauvignon grapevines, alife algorithms, human participation, molded urethane plastic, cyano acrylate glue, baking soda, sensors and custom computers.

Special Thanks to:

The Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art for their financial support in realizing this project.





elf­ Installation with analog electronics, photographs and preserving glasses, 2004, Pascal Glissmann, Martina Höfflin

elfs are small, analog creatures reacting to light, calling the attention of the observer with their delicate sounds and movements. The installation depicts the electronic life forms photographed in nature and displays them in 10 traditional preserving-glasses.

Even though there is no general agreement for the definition of life, there is a cluster of properties connected to life: growth, reproduction, adaption, responsiveness, metabolism, movement. Sometimes autonomy, development, and evolution are also mentioned. In general, life is regarded as a complex biochemical machine. These bio-machines¹ have been available for studies ­ as carbon based life forms ­ for many years now, but at the same time researchers and artists always had a strong interest in simulating biological phenomena through the use of biochemistry, mechanics, robotics or computer models.

One important push for building artificial life was the desire for machines that could help organizing the every day life more comfortable. Today these ’support functions of robots are very complex and only traceable by teams of experts and computer-based systems. Nevertheless the fascination of creating life is still present: not to realize basic functions but as the opportunity to communicate ideas of life and its philosophy in an artistic context. Our motivation is the enthusiasm of creating living things, observe their independent behaviors in lab and nature and peoplesŒ reaction when they get in contact with simple life forms. In this case, art is technology. We do not rebuild organic creatures with the feeling of being forced to use ugly technology. We explored technology ­ especially small electronic components and its functions ­ which made us thinking of the ’elfŒ project. It is fascinating to use very un-organic material, put it together in a way that it is still recognizable but adding some simple pure function that gives this living expression. The whole idea of this project is the exploration of technology and putting it in a new context/environment/perspective which questions the relationship between technology, nature and humans.





I am fascinated by the idea of mechanical devices which have unpredictable “lives of their own”… sets of internal rules and cycles which give them autonomous and surprising behaviors. Since 1966, I have been building kinetic devices that have deliberately minimal visual appeal, yet a strong behavioral dimension. Their behavior derives partly from the materials that I employ… electronic components, motors, pulleys, gears, etc. The tendency for such materials to wear and break echos my own mortality and provides me with yet another way to transcend my own intention and control.

As an artist, I am concerned with the social framework in which I present my creations to the public. I believe that for too long Western society has clung to the idea that exhibiting in galleries and museums is integral to art practice. The result has been the alienation of large sectors of a society who feel intimidated by the highly controlled, self-conscious aura of the average gallery. Therefore my projects over the last twelve years have sought out ways to bring art to all people of a given place, especially those people who tend to avoid institutionalized art venues.

The above conceptual mix — experimentation, machine behavior and vulnerability, computer physicality, broadened public access — has led me inevitiably to robotics. It has become for me but another form of portraiture, rife with myriad possibilites of introspection, irony, drama, farce, and social commentary.





Busby Berkeley choreographed dancers to mimic the motions of machines and modern inventions. “AutoGene” is the flipside of this .It’s a simple aesthetic looking robot composed of eight modified umbrellas mounted in a circular pattern. A cocktail of air hoses and electrical cables join these umbrellas to a central computer which enables “AutoGene” to produce a choreographed dance to music which erodes the machines mechanical qualities and transforms the mundane umbrellas into magical animated objects.





Icelandic Rift is a series of structures assembled from industrial materials, stark yet organic forms, and automated systems. These sculptures form modular systems of organic architecture that play on the viewer’s senses of scale and gravity. The Rift sculptures include electromechanical systems which automate lights and fluids within the sculpture body. Materials in the series include aluminum, cast acrylic, eurothene, ferrofluid, and custom kinetics and electronics.

In all, the structures in the Icelandic Rift series represent a future vision of agriculture and growth in a zero-g environment. They are composed of artificial islands supported and connected by steel and aluminum struts so that they can be assembled as part of a greater mechanical system that hovers above the floor. Together the architecture formed by these structures is designed to be perceived as both vaguely familiar and also austerely alien.

On the larger aluminum islands in the series sit smaller island forms cut from cast acrylic and/or aluminum. The island centers are hollowed out to function as reservoirs to hold ferrofluid – a type of liquid magnet. This is a dense black liquid that has the startling quality of spiking up when an earth magnet is placed in its proximity. Under some of these islands I have automated hard magnets and electromagnets that, in turn, automate the standing ferrofluid liquid in the reservoirs so that the liquid is made to spin, rise, twitch, or travel. These symbolize the energy sources for the systems.

These pieces were inspired by the landscapes that I explored in Iceland in 2004. There, I saw breathtakingly monumental glaciers which seemed to float atop fields smooth black lava rock. In other parts of the country, there were endless stains of acid green sulfur on the earth as well as steaming blue pools of heat-loving algae which defied one’s sense of “the natural”. The landscape in Iceland is famous for its lunar feel but its elements seemed to trump gravity and logic in ways that were utterly unexpected. I am also drawing inspiration for this work from the multi-tiered design of staged, hillside agricultural systems such as those seen in Asian rice terraces. Last, I am drawing inspiration from the soft design forms found in domed space observatories, water droplets, and BioSpheres.