22 January 2020

Knobby Clubrush: Robotic Experiment

Visiting researcher Prof Marília Bergamo has created the computer artwork Knobby Clubrush inspired by a native plant of Australia (Ficínia Nodosa) that assimilates the premise of plant behaviour.

A decentralized system is a key to this computer artwork, as distribution of functions without main specialized organs is what most distinguishes plants in nature. In the sculpture, each stem was treated as a robotic-computational agent with autonomy in decision making. Each agent is a unique structure produced within an intentional circumscribed action. The most valuable approach of this concept in robotic design was the distribution of functions in physical arrangements easily modulated.

To be closely integrated with the Sensilab’s research area of programmed matter, Knobby Clubrush should also contain 3D printing forms as results of algorithm interactions with the environment. In the final sculpture, 3D printing is concentrated on the top of the agents, where a casing was necessary to mechanically produce aerodynamical movements and protect the sensitive parts. The pattern on the sculpture is random, but it represents an algorithm potential to implement results of well-adapted agents to be transmitted to future generations.

Detailed structure of 3D printed forms

The final assemblage is composed of nine agents connected to a modular structure. All cables from the sensitive area to the root are organized with a steel matter and green cables covered on a dry plastic isolation film. The final assemblage illustrates this computer artwork as scientific exploration and also a conceptual piece of art. Knobby Clubrush rejects divisions between matter and methodology and all clear partitions into specialized subdisciplines of art and robotics.

Prof Marília Bergamo visited SensiLab between July 2019 and June 2020.