Stanza, AI, robot art, imteractive installtion

Title: Lost In Translation. 2014

Installation. You read to a custom made robot that responds to a series of texts and makes drawings unique to each reader. Readers are invited to step up to the lectern and read into a microphone from a specially made book called Lost In Translation. The book consists of passages from The Bible, The Torah, The Quran and a Take Away menu. The text and voice are interpreted via software and a robot is set into action on a custom made plinth to interpret what it all means. The robot interprets the text and the voice to creates a painting on canvas of the results. The work questions not only the meaning and interpretation of text but just who controls our understanding of the outputs and indeed what is Lost In Translation. This is a very playful user friendly work and actively engages the audience not only to think about the text but the meaning of how automation and networked technology is changing the control of understanding. The artwork poses the question just who is in control of whom.

We live in an age of automation, and our trust in machines governs our actions and reason. The world of machines are becoming more and more autonomous and the information they present is difficult to trust. How do we trust our sources?

Context: The texts we read today have different intentions and interpretations and our understanding often differs from the the original intention. Indeed texts have to be interpreted and parsed by our brains for understanding. A each sentence is broken down into its component parts of speech an explanation of the form, function, and syntactical relationship of each part so that we gain some meaning.

Technical Overview: The process of controlling the robot is: Analyse speech—> transmit commands to robot —> robot draws lines.
How it works. The Robot is controlled over an 868 Mhz serial data wireless link, from a custom app. written using Xojo. The app. hooks into the OSX speech recognition system to extract words as the user is reading the text. The words are analysed for alphabetical order and length, and these values are used as indexes into a command table. The command table stores the data that describes a robot movement, or set of movements. These are sent in real-time to the robot and it moves and draws patterns. If the robot encounters a wall it moves away a random amount, and then carries on executing the commands.

The software is using a custom hook into the Siri voice recognition engine. This runs 'offline' so needs no internet connection. Siri is an AI system at its core, but uses a lot of machine learning techniques. This helps to get get good, fast word and grammar recognition. Siri is trained on many, many  examples of words and phrases. It does not store all of these and then compare what you say to this data (A rules-based system). Rather it builds knowledge patterns that it can use to understand what you are saying and the context of your enquiry (Machine learning).

Audience Engagement:
The user interacts with the robot in the following manner: Standing on a pressure mat in front of the microphone cause the app. to start listening for speech input. The app. makes a short beep when it is ready. As the user reads the text, the text appears in a field in the app. to show what is being read. When the user steps off the mat, the app. stops the robot and stops listening for speech input.

Exhibition Logistical Overview:

This work is available for touring and can be shown on various contexts. It now has two robots one is a spare for back up. . Canvases get hung on the gallery walls. A large screen also shows the system working in real time as a visualization, so you can see what the computer understands you to be saying. All equipment supplied except the screen.


Quad Derby UK. Our Friends Electric. 2017
Milton Keynes Central Libraries. UK. 2014

Keywords:- artistic robots, confusion, meaning, uncertainty, intention, translation, AI, machine learning, art and robotics.


At QUAD Derby at Our Friends Electric

AI machine learning artwork

AI, artwork ,machine learning

AI, artwork ,machine learning

AI, artwork ,machine learning, stanza




Set up Notes Lost in Translation

Follow setup diagram supplied. HERE
Gaffa tape any cable runs across the floor.
Set up computer monitor so to be visible to users
Pay attention to tidying the cables as well as possible.
Ensure robot second battery is on charge once used

Extra equipment required
Gaffa Tape for cable security Extension cables Table for computer monitor
Robot batteries are charged
Pens are in good condition
Canvas supply

Special notes- trouble shooting

After multiple use - and also periods of down time - the Mac Mini needs a hard reboot. This will become apparent when the mat is stood upon and the microphone icon on the screen does not activate. Also sometimes the software continues to work after the user steps off the mat. This signifies a reboot! The hard reboot action takes approx a minute to complete.
List of stuff for return/

Rechargeable batteries (3 Lithium). Battery charger. Two Robots working. Three Lost In Translation Books. Duracell AA for keyboard. Roll of Stencils. 67 Pens to be replaced. Microphone. Mac mini and power cables (start up timers disabled and returned to normal). Keyboard and mouse. Cables in HDMI. Wireless adapter in mac min. Mic Volume box. (all goes together Please bubble wrap well each item but DO NOT tape after wrapping in bubble. I recommend you source a better box to put it all in)

Screen. Brackets for wall on screen.
Main plinth ( to be bubble wrapped. around legs and over top. ie protection from damp)
Canvases under board secured down. (ie put all the canvases off the wall under the board on the main plinth and screw the board on / down in a nice way.
Lecturn Please also Bubble wrap for return.

When changing pens you must pay attention to securing the pen to the correct height.


Lost in Translation tour dates of all libraries

Saturday 12 September    Central Library all day Saturday 3 October  Kingston Library 10-12noon    Saturday 3 October   Central Library 2-4pm Thursday 8October    Central Library all day Tuesday 27 October     Olney Library 10-12noon       Tuesday 27 October     Bletchley Library 2-4pm Wednesday 28 October    Westcroft Library 10-12noon    Wednesday 28 October  Newport Pagnell Library 2-4pm Thursday 29 October    Stony Stratford   10 -12 noon     Thursday 29 October Woburn Sands Library  2-4pm Friday 30 October    Wolverton Library 10 -12 noon