Domin: ...Man is a being that does things such as feeling happiness, plays the violin, likes to go for a walk, and all sorts of other things which are simply not needed. No, wait. Which are simply not needed for activities such as weaving or calculating. A petrol engine doesn’t have any ornaments or tassels on it, and making an artificial worker is just like making a petrol engine. The simpler you make production the better you make the product. What sort of worker do you think is the best?Helena: The best sort of worker? I suppose one who is honest and dedicated.Domin: No. The best sort of worker is the cheapest worker. The one that has the least needs. What young Rossum invented was a worker with the least needs possible. He had to make him simpler. He threw out everything that wasn’t of direct use in his work, that’s to say, he threw out the man and put in the robot. Miss Glory, robots are not people. They are mechanically much better than we are, they have an amazing ability to understand things, but they don’t have a soul. Young Rossum created something much more sophisticated than Nature ever did—technically at least!
1.1. Systems of Embodied Motion
1.2. Choreography as Body-Based Research
1.3. Improvisational Technology
1.4. Tools for Creators
1.5. Expressive Robotics
2. Methods: Embodied Practices for Roboticists Developed from Choreography and Somatics
2.1. Bringing Movement to the Foreground
2.2. Weight, Flow, Breath, and Group Sensing
2.3. Kinesphere Exploration Through Spatial Pulls
2.4. Written and Embodied Movement Observation
- Engage in free movement improvisation in response to the stimuli of varying musical selections
- Engage in free movement improvisation in response to words (adjectives) that evoke qualitative movement responses
- Playing children’s games, like Red Rover, Ring-Around-The-Rosey, and Duck-Duck-Goose, which naturally elicit playful, dynamic motion profiles (which easily produce short moments of complex Effort constellations, such as States and Drives, providing fodder for discussion)
- Break into groups that are each given an Effort Motif, e.g., three symbols describing distinct motion quality, and have the group create a phrase of movement that uses them, explicating a context (note that it’s unlikely, bordering on impossible, that two groups will come up with the same motion sequence)
- Show movement sequences that are generated from the same Motif side-by-side
- Discuss as a group: What is essential about the movements and their commonalities? How is this revealed through the quality descriptors in the Motif? What makes the sequences different and “mean” different things?
2.5. Establishing the Malleability of Meaning in Movement
3. Results: Progress and Principles in Developing Expressive Robotic Systems
3.1. Irreplaceable Body-Based Research in Robotics
3.2. The Case for Manual Movement Design
3.3. Objective, Qualitative Movement Observation (to Support Subjective Conclusions)
4. Conclusions: Toward Widespread Collaboration between Dancers and Roboticists
...the truest creativity of the digital age came from those who connected the arts and sciences.—The Innovators (Isaacson 2014)
Conflicts of Interest
Appendix A. Detailed Activity List
- Between 2013 and 2017 Catherine Maguire offered five workshops in LBMS for the RAD Lab. These ranged from one-on-one sessions to group sessions with all lab members and sponsored from the lab start up packages at UVA and UIUC as well as a grant from the UVA Data Science Institute.
- In Fall 2014 Kim Brooks Mata and Amy LaViers co-developed and co-taught DAN 3559/ENG 3501 Electronic Identity and Embodied Technology Atelier, cross-listed between the dance and engineering programs at the University of Virginia and funded by the Jefferson Trust.
- As part of a research project, “Choreography of Platform-Invariant Motion Primitives” Amy LaViers organized two three day training workshops at UIUC. The first, in June 2016, was co-developed and co-taught with Catherine Maguire and Karen Studd; the second, in June 2017, was co-developed and co-taught with Catherine Maguire, Catie Cuan, and Riley Watts. In addition to travel expenses covered, the facilitators were paid at one of two hourly rates (one for consulting and a higher rate for teaching). These workshops were sponsored by DARPA grant number D16AP00001.
- Karen Bradley advised Amy LaViers’ CMA thesis project entitled “Preparing to Cook with Eric: Function and Expression Within Recipe”, which was completed in August 2016 through the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies (LIMS).
- Amy LaViers organized a workshop at Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS) in 2016 entitled “Let’s Move: Embodied Experience and Movement Observation for Roboticists”. The workshop featured Elizabeth Jochum, Heather Knight, and Kayhan Ozcimder as speakers. Attendees included participants from industry and academia including CMU, JPL, U Mich, Duke, WPI, Google, Sphero, UIUC, Princeton, and Aalborg University.
- Amy LaViers co-organized an invited, follow on workshop in 2017 for RSS with Kayhan Ozcimder entitled “Experimenting with Movement Observation”. Attendees included participants from MIT, UIUC, Princeton, and U Mich.
- In April 2017 Amy LaViers attended Art, Tech, Psyche III at Harvard University where she also spent extended time meeting with Ilya Vidrin and Riley Watts discussing the phenomena of partnering in dance; these conversations have led to an inprogress independent study project for a master’s student in mechanical engineering at UIUC.
- In June 2017 Catie Cuan, a New York based choreographer, spent a month in residence at the RAD Lab in Urbana, IL. As part of this residency she taught classes to lab members and developed an artistic piece alongside Amy LaViers, Ishaan Pakrasi, and Novoneel Chakraborty. The piece “Time to Compile”, and was presented as a work in progress on 30 June 2017. This work is sponsored by the lab start up package and NSF grant number 1528036. User studies are in progress using this material to modulate perception of in home robots.
- In addition to training and education for lab members, Catherine Maguire has consulted on two research projects where her expertise in movement theory and observation have been integral parts of the technical output in the lab. In addition to co-authoring resulting papers, she has been paid an hourly consulting rate on these projects, funded by NSF grant numbers 1528036 and 1701295.
- In Spring 2017 a new course ME 598: High-level Robotic Control and Movement Representation was offered at UIUC. The course emphasized embodied movement exploration, writing, and interdisciplinary research. An “Expressivity Expansion Pack” for the Robot Design Game3 was produced as a formal output of this class.
- Over the years two regular lab activities have been developed that support this line of work in the group in addition to the group’s weekly lab meeting. We call them “writing hour” and “movement hour”. In each, we take time to practice descriptive writing and embodied movement exploration (led by Amy LaViers or a guest facilitator like Catie Cuan who helped establish “movement hour”) in order to supplement the traditional education students receive in engineering. Students in the group who have contributed as co-authors here are Novoneel Chakraborty, Madison Heimerdinger, Umer Huzaifa, Reika McNish, Alexandra Nilles, Ishaan Pakrasi, and Alexander Zurawski.
- Lab outreach activities also benefit from these workshops. The lab holds outreach activities for students in age ranges from elementary to high school. All of these activities work to showcase robotics in an accessible manner and feature embodied movement exploration as well as quantitative and qualitative objective description of movement of machines and humans.
- A commercial spin off of the lab, start up AE Machines, was founded by Eric Minnick and Amy LaViers. The start up has received seed funding from the NSF grant #1621861 and won Product Design of the Year at the 4th Revolution Awards in Chicago, IL.
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Note that meaningful movement may not necessarily be narrative.
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