Keynote Address: Moving With Screens + Machines Symposium

Keynote Address: Bodies Dancing in Unison: The Illusion of Imitation and Its Impact on Robotics and AI

Thursday, April 18, 2024 • 5:45-7PM

Event Attributes


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Join us for the Keynote Address at the Moving With Screens + Machines Symposium featuring guest presenter Amy LaViers, Director of Robotics, Automation, and Dance (RAD) Lab.

Can a human imitate an octopus? Can a bee mimic a centipede? Can a quadruped mirror a biped? When do two bodies in motion do the same thing? Moving robots out of factories requires that we consider the ability of a body’s movement to communicate, express or otherwise encode meaning. This new context poignantly demonstrates how the arts are an essential body of knowledge for robotic research: Musicians make instruments like a cello and flute perform similar actions, bolstered by shared notation. Likewise, dancers take disparate bodies, people with differing bone structures and musculatures, and create coordinated group action in a novel motion style that serves a single expressive goal. The talk will grapple with the impossibility of dancing in unison and posit this phenomenon as a fundamental act that forms the basis of embodied communication. The talk also highlights possibilities and challenges posed by movement notation for robotics, drawing parallels to the development of modern music notation, by presenting work by artist-engineer teams in the RAD Lab: robots that imitate human movement; a teleoperation scheme driven by movement notation; a metric for measuring the expressiveness of a moving body; new systems for notating movement and a twenty-foot-wide breath-activated public robotic art installation inspired by bird wings that gives participants immediate creative experience with robots.

This event is part of Moving With Screens + Machines: A Symposium on Embodied Practices and Technology.