The project ´s u p e r V i V o´ is an artistic and scientific experiment, which develops, realizes, tests, documents and analyzes cybernetic plants in three adjacent cycles.
Three robots are built within the three-stage experiment. Traditionally, the legs of robots are mechanic, but in this project they are replaced by branches of extremely fast growing plants (e.g. willow, bamboo or dracaena).
The ´internal´ conflict of the three “cyborgs” (Cybernetic Organism) is staged publicly in the ´s u p e r V i V o – Arena´. The playing field is changed according to each act and bears lethal or vital zones for each “cyborg”.
The first robot operates without programming: It consists of a combination of simple circuits, which navigate it according to a preset pattern. Its organic legs work against the mechanism’s movement by rooting and sprouting. In the second part of the experiment the robot’s movement is influenced by two entities: on the one hand it is steered by community networks, on the other hand it is governed by the organisms, which want to settle down – literally set down roots. In the third act, the manipulation by the community is omitted, which neutralizes its ambivalence and only the plants remain to govern over the robot according to their needs.
Scene One: ´Organism versus Mechanism´
First generation of the three-stage experiment
A solar powered robot with live willow, bamboo or dracaena offshoots (fast rooting and robust plants) as legs is built in this act. Thus, the plants are expanded by mechanical motor activity on the one hand, and on the other hand the machine is expanded by organic components. Both entities are driven by controversial ‘instincts’: The machine strives to stay in motion, but the plants urge to settle down. By conjoining both, a unit fighting itself is formed.
The play ground for this schizophrenic’s inner conflict is the ´s u p e r V i V o – Arena´. This dramatization determines which of the two artificially constructed, allegedly symbiotic, components succeeds over the other.
Scene Two: ´Organism versus Society´
Second generation of the three-stage experiment
A new test object, which is developed on the basis of its predecessor, is injected with ‘intelligence’. An Arduino board replaces the simple circuits. The internal communication of the plants / legs is measured, interpreted, and modified to commands. Hence, the plant controls its mechanical ‘body’. The ‘community’ operates as counterpart to the organic ‘intelligence’ and steers the hybrid via Twitter. An schizophrenic/split creature, an intelligent chimera is born, which is controlled by the organism and its creators – humans.
Scene Three: ´The cybernetic Organism´
Third generation of the three-stage experiment
In the last scene of the trilogy a self-sustaining cybernetic creature is created, which is only governed by the organic intelligence. The hybrid only moves in order to find the perfect spot for the organisms to put down roots. A ‘self-sustaining’, ‘self-determined’, cybernetic creature emerges and must prove itself in the arena.
s u p e r V i V o – ´The Rise of the Cybernetic Plant´ | Erkin Bayirli and Philip Fischer | Vienna, Juli 2010