Jean-Marc Gauthier, Mark Argo, Ann Pouchareon and Daniel Hirschman designed and produced “Nicebots”, an open studio exhibit,
showcasing the construction and design of interactive robots inside MAMAC, a contemporary art museum in Nice, France.
Robotic, ubiquitous computing, micro-controller, Arduino, fabrication, installation interactive,
contemporary art museum, remote communication, light displays, interaction with visitors, artificial intelligence, machine learning.
The “Nicebots” are electronic handicrafts, constructed almost entirely by hand using available hobby materials;
with the exception of circuit board fabrication and laser-cut wood pieces. Designed to be of the same species, each bot
contains the same basic components that make up the body anatomy.
The components fit together in a rectangular box that make up the body of the bot. Each bot is
programmed with the same sensor and motor controls, but slightly different logic to give each bot a unique personality. The bots are completely autonomous and “evolve” throughout the exhibition. Over time, we reprogrammed them so they could learn about their environment. They react when hitting a wall or trying to get out of a corner. The magnetic sensors enable the bots to sense each other and to interact with a “magic wand” (a magnet on a stick) which is given to the visitors.
During the exhibition, the visitors of the museum could interact with the bots inside the museum's galleries. By observing the visitors interactions with the bots and the effects the bots had on the public, we were able to make adjustments and “teach” the bots additional behaviors. The following pictures show the visual evolution of the Nicebots.
During the one month exhibition, the bots began as infants, having only basic motor and sensor controls. As the show developed, additional bots were built and their “brains” evolved with our guidance. Unique behaviors emerged giving each robot their personality.
Client: Affaires Culturelles de la ville de Nice, Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC).
Credits: Research, development, production, design: Jean-Marc Gauthier, Mark Argo (Canada), Ann Pouchareon (Thailand), Daniel Hirschmann (South Africa).
Funding: Nicebots was funded by Affaires Culturelles de la ville de Nice and Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art.