ROBOTRONIKA - hypermatic:automagic
19 - 23 June 1998 Museumsquartier, Vienna/Austria

Amorphic Robot Works/Chico MacMurtrie, USA
"Telescoping Totem-pole"
Saturday, June 21, 8 p.m., Halle H
In 1992, in response to the growing needs of his tribe of machines, Chico MacMurtrie formed Amorphic Robot Works. This collaborative group was established to create a forum for artists, engineers and technicians to work together under his artistic leadership to create robotic performances and installations. Over 20 people have participated in the creation of his family of machines, collectively known as The Amorphic Evolution - a multimedia mechanical performance ensemble that uses MIDI computer control to actuate the behaviours inherent in the robots. Amorphic Robot Work's machines have evolved from MacMurtrie's original attempt to animate his puppets, and now follow their own evolutionary regeneration forged from his imagination. MacMurtrie explains, "The movement achieved by each machine-sculpture teaches the next generation and becomes an integral addition to the older generation." One is further reminded of the mechanisms at work in evolution as these machines become more kinetically able and discover more complicated aspects of survival as they throw rocks, climb, make music, and struggle to stand.

MacMurtrie has given birth to over 100 machines and says he is now "expanding the perimeters" of his clan of machines. Currently he is merging all of his creations into a singular body of work by combining "The Amorphic Evolution" with a new piece, produced in 1997, "The Cave of the Subconscious." When entering the cave, each viewer embarks on an interactive experience when they encounter a humanoid machine with an expansive rubber skin, metaphorically representing the influence of diet from the artist's own cultural roots. As the robot offers each observer lard for consumption, their choice of interaction determines subsequent events in the 24 other mechanical sculptures embedded in the cavernous walls. The cave and its dwellers are an assemblage of archetypes through which the viewer enters a psychological and cultural exploration into subconscious territories. Emerging from the cave the audience discovers the tribal gathering of the Amorphic Society, populated by mechanical beings emulating human movements and sounds as they generate their own rhythms. Echoing our collective evolutionary traits, this tribe of machines fuses the sympathetic behaviour and frailty of humans with the viscera of pneumatic tubing, cylinders and valves. The audience bears witness to MacMurtrie's unique analysis of society as he continues his investigation the most primitive aspects of the human condition.