*You have to be registered to attend this exhibit*

Please register here: creativeinterruptions.net/festival

Probots are hacked robotic protestors, tele-operated to reduce the risk of activists who might otherwise receive sharp blows to the head while exercising their civil rights.

Probots become a “dissident witness” to the act of protest. Following early development by La Fábrica de Cosas Bonitas, the tele-operated self-balancing robot now reduces personal involvement in protests to a clinical and measurable effect. Mirroring military drone technology, it protects the “operator” from sharp blows to the head by angry police or drunk fascists, while at the same time maintaining some of the power of an embodied, human sized protestor that can carry a sign and produce loud chants and cheers. Built from shipping pallets, hoodies, and bullhorns, running on a single board computer, using surplus motors and a cheap android phone, the self-balancing robots can be sent on protest missions or a full day, controlled via low-latency mobile internet for two-way audio and video participation.

For the festival we will have the robots circling the Blue Room, being controlled by participants to the conference. With a cafe table the exhibit depicts an operator’s “cockpit,” in the form of the classic transient workspace of the European intellectual. The table is equipped with requisite Sartre and Proudhon texts, ashtray and Gauloises tobacco pouch, used espresso cups, and rough-and-ready control panel.

The viewer should be able to engage with the robot by sitting at the table and interacting with the robot as it rolls through the space. If viewers prove irresponsible, the artist will take that role.

Chris Csikszentmihályi is European Research Area Chair at Madeira Interactive Technology Institute, and directs the Rootio Project, a sociotechnical stack for community radio. Csikszentmihalyi has been a professor at colleges, universities, and institutes, including a decade at the MIT Media Lab, and was Distinguished Visiting Professor of Art and Design Research at Parsons the New School for Design. He cofounded and directed the MIT Center for Future Civic Media (C4), developing technologies that strengthen communities, and founded the MIT Media Lab’s Computing Culture group, which used participatory design techniques to create unique media technologies for cultural and political applications.

Many thanks to : Vitor Hugo Agiar and Victor Azevedo