THR_33 (Tea House for Robots) is comprised of a responsive architectural environment and a group of robotically-enhanced domestic appliances. Imagine if your radio could tune into any frequency that had ever been broadcast. What would we hear? Imagine if your toaster could remember how you liked your toast, or your entire family’s preference. What if your kitchen mixer could prepare ingredients based on downloadable techniques and recipes – where you just choose the recipe/technique, add the ingredients and it does the rest? What if household appliances in the future instead of plugging in to wall outlets recharged at solar powered light wells and required time to play in order to learn. THR_33 imagines all this and proposes that as our appliances become smart we will change the way we live and come to think of them. Perhaps we would cherish these products more than the throwaway gadgets we currently create. In our speculative future, appliances have evolved to become part of the family. THR_33 questions how we will relate to these autonomous and responsive environments and appliances. THR_33 mixes the sophistication of contemporary smart and super phones, with the design aesthetic of iconic industrial products to produce appliances we want to live with. The home will also be transformed. Domestic space will also change to regulate temperature, lighting and produce and store all its inhabitants’ energy needs. These power stations can form a dual purpose – providing power and providing space for the robots and their owners to interact and play.
The ‘Tea House’ Structure
Conforming to the traditional dimensions of a Japanese Tea House of 9’ x 9’ x 6′, the space provides a series of interactions between user and space, space and robots.
TST_003, RDO_002, and MXR_011 all have unique traits, behaviors and interactions. The interactions move between user and object, object and space. TST_003 is a toaster. RDO_002 is a radio and MXR_011 is a stand mixer. They all have been reconceived as sense-enabled robots with speculative features.
Fastest of all sense-enabled toasters
New and improved user-recognition settings
Have toast how you want it, wherever you want it. The TST_003 can rove the kitchen and navigate your home with ease. Save time with user-recognition settings. Store your preferences by bread variety and desired brownness to ensure perfection every time. TST_003 can fully recharge itself* and perform routine upgrades** too! It’s the perfect appliance for contemporary living.
*Requires solar-powered recharging station. Supplied separately.
** Requires interweb connection.
Most extensive dynamic tunable capabilities from both in-orbit and deep space sources.
Don’t buy any other all-in-one media device
Personal Deep Listening Device able to tune in any homo sapiens-derived broadcast frequency in the known universe. RDO_002 intuitively selects media to suit or enhance your mood and puts together a completely immersive experience. RDO_002 with superior media programming from our extensive digital rights managed library*. RDO_002 moves between standard, mood enhanced or fully autonomous mode. And with a simple request you can set it to genre spinner – mixing across media. RDO_002 can fully recharge itself** and perform routine upgrades*** too! It’s the perfect media device.
* Requires lifetime subscription.
**Requires solar-powered recharging station. Supplied separately.
*** Requires interweb connection.
The best kitchen aide you’ll ever have
Automatic and Autonomous – true multi-tasking and sensing in one appliance
MXR_011 modern features makes cooking a real joy. Saves time by handling all your food prep needs. It slices, grinds, chops, and juices with included attachments. More powerful mixing makes batters easy. Mix finder dial gives you multiple speeds with the press of a button. It’s mobile for recharging* and can perform routine upgrades** too! It’s the perfect culinary integration device.
*Requires solar-powered recharging station. Supplied separately.
** Requires interweb connection.
The book that resulted from the ‘inter_multi_trans_actions: emerging trends in post-disciplinary creative practice’ symposium at Napier University in Edinburgh, Scotland on Thursday 26 June, 2008 is nearing publication.
The book ‘Digital Blur: Creative Practice at the Boundaries of Architecture, Design and Art’ edited by Paul Rodgers and Michael Smyth will now be published by Libri Publishing following Middlesex University’s decision to close Middlesex University Press.
According to Amazon the book is due on 31 March, 2010.
The book contains an essay by Julian Bleecker and myself that is preambled thus:
Marshall and Bleecker, in their essay, propose the term “undisciplinary” for the type of work prevalent in this book. That is, creative practice which straddles ground and relationships between art, architecture, design and technology and where different idioms of distinct and disciplinary practices can be brought together. This is clearly evident in the processes and projects of the practitioners’ work here. Marshall and Bleecker view these kinds of projects and experiences as beyond disciplinary practice resulting in a multitude of disciplines “engaging in a pile-up, a knot of jumbled ideas and perspectives.” To Marshall and Bleecker, “undisciplinarity is as much a way of doing work as it is a departure from ways of doing work.” They claim it is a way of working and an approach to creating and circulating culture that can go its own way, without worrying about working outside of what histories-of-disciplines say is “proper” work. In other words, it is “undisciplined”. In this culture of practice, they continue, one cannot be wrong, nor have practice elders tell you how to do what you want to do and this is a good thing because it means new knowledge is created all at once rather than incremental contributions made to a body of existing knowledge. These new ways of working make necessary new practices, new unexpected processes and projects come to be, almost by definition. This is important because we need more playful and habitable worlds that the old forms of knowledge production are ill-equipped to produce. For Marshall and Bleecker, it is an epistemological shift that offers new ways of fixing the problems the old disciplinary and extra-disciplinary practices created in the first place. The creative practitioners contained within the pages of this book clearly meet the “undisciplinary” criteria suggested by Marshall and Bleecker in that they certainly do not need to be told how or what to do; they do not adhere to conventional disciplinary boundaries nor do they pay heed to procedural steps and rules. However, they know what’s good, and what’s bad and they instinctively know what the boundaries are and where the limits of the disciplines lie.
We have been working on TST_003 – our ToasterBot for the “Teahouse for Robots” exhibition (The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan. Friday, July 9 – Sunday, August 22, 2010). We have a working set of prototype electronics and we have a first draft chassis built as a proof of concept. The CAD models for the robot shell are about 80% done. Bosses, ribs, intake slots and mounting brackets are next. There also needs to be some branding on the side which is looking very blank at present. The front end of TST_003 is shamelessly ripped off from a Dualit toaster merged with an Airstream trailer on tank tracks.
We are working on a project for the following exhibition:
“Trouble in Paradise / The Ethics of Survival”
Date: Friday, July 9 – Sunday, August 22, 2010
International Symposium: “Creative Engagement / The Ethics of Survival”
Date: Part I: Saturday, July 10, Part II: Saturday, July 31
Location: The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto
It is a speculative space in a ‘home of the future’ where domestic appliances (robots) can go to recharge, update their firmware and generally get away from it all. The starting point (see image above) for our robots are over-engineered, emotionally-durable, iconic products. You could say we are suckers for ‘Raygun Gothic’ – but we prefer the term ‘SodaPop Chic’.
Karl Daubmann is working on the tea-house structure.
“Shadow Pavilion is a temporary experimental installation by University of Michigan Taubman College professor Karl Daubmann in collaboration with John Marshall. The project is an extension from a graduate studio course. It utilizes computer-generated architectural forms inspired by organic models to design site-specific structures that maximize utility while minimizing material and waste. This botanical-inspired structure was designed for this overlook on the Sam Graham Trees Trail. It frames the vista for visitors while providing both shade and a visual destination that orients people to the view point.”
“Construction was assisted by graduate students Ngoc Thy Phan and Alex Timmer with construction volunteers Craig Borum, Peggy Chong, Jen Maigret, Jessica Mattson, Katie Santer, Dwight Song and Alex Watanabe. This project was made possible by a Research-through-Making grant from Taubman College at the University of Michigan and the U-M Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum.”
The Shadow Pavilion explores the paradox of cutting holes in a structure because the removal of material makes a structure weaker but also lighter. The Shadow Pavilion, designed for a site at the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Garden, is both a structure and a space made entirely of holes. The pavilion surface is made with almost 100 aluminum cones that vary in size. Beyond testing the limits of sheet aluminum, the cones will act to funnel light and sound to the interior space, offering visitors a space to take in the views and sounds of the surrounding landscape.
By Karl Daubmann & John Marshall. Assisted by: Ngoc Thy Phan & Alex Timmer
This project was made possible by a Research-through-Making grant from Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan.
‘Nora & Torvald’
By rootoftwo (John Marshall and Cezanne Charles)
Birch plywood, Arduino micro-controllers, sensors, speakers, audio.
‘Nora & Torvald’ embeds sensor-controlled digital media in custom-designed pieces of furniture. The starting point of this work is a re-reading of Henrik Ibsen’s play “A Doll’s House” (1879) to explore user-object relationships.
There is a photocell embedded in the seat of the armchair ‘Torvald’. This sends a message when it registers darkness (i.e. when someone sits down). This triggers a randomly selected line of dialogue (one of ten) from the play to be played as audio. There is an accelerometer in the rocking stool ‘Nora’. When she is rocked this triggers a randomly selected line of her dialogue (also one of ten) to be played as audio.
A&D 5th Annual Faculty Exhibition, Slusser Gallery, 2000 Bonisteel Blvd. 1st floor.
‘Nora’ and ‘Torvald’ both use the Adafruit Wave Shield for Arduino Kit.
Sample dialogue (when 2 people are sitting):
T: This time I needn’t sit here and be dull all alone. You have just come at a fortunate moment.
N: It’s wonderful! Wonderful things don’t happen every day. Take this armchair; I will sit here in the rocking-chair.
T: Has anyone been here?
N: What a thoughtless creature I am, chattering away like this.
T: You can depend on me.
N: It will make me so happy to be of some use to you.
T: Don’t disturb me. Look straight at me.
N: I am in a silly mood today. Come and sit down here, and I will show you something.
T: How unreasonable and how ungrateful you are. What sort of madness is this! Can you not understand your place in your own home?
N: What do you want of me? Have you been sitting here waiting for me?
T: I may as well tell you plainly, we were once on very intimate terms with one another.
N: You don’t understand me, and I have never understood you either.
T: Explain yourself better. I don’t understand you. Can I never be anything more than a stranger to you?
N: You must simply listen to what I say. I have existed merely to perform tricks for you.
T: You are right, it has affected us both. Something ugly has come between us. Where are you going?
N: Isn’t there one thing that strikes you as strange in our sitting here like this.
T: Here you shall stay and give me an explanation.
N: Does it not occur to you that this is the first time we two… have had a serious conversation?
T: On the contrary, I feel extraordinarily lively. And you? You really look both tired and sleepy.