Jimmy's blog

The Robot Etudes

May 10th, 2010

This blog usually functions as a journal for my photography endeavors, but I’m quite excited about this next project and figured it’s somewhat related that I decided to throw it in.

For the past three months architects and engineers students at the University of Pennsylvania have been working together on building mechatronic devices (think robots) to interact with actors in a play. Etudes were created and are loosely inspired by Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s dream. They will be performed this Saturday by the Pig Iron Theatre Troupe at the Harold Prince Theater of the Annenberg Center.

The very avant-garde Pig Iron Theatre Troupe is highly renowned so we are lucky to work with them and Shakespeare was a rad hipster in his day so brush up on them here and here.

Being a roboticist by day and photographer by night I’m always interested in mixing the art and engineering disciplines. Often though when I look around and find these two disciplines combined it dilutes the two and the sum is less than the parts. The result usually being mediocre engineering and crappy art. It is difficult to find the right balance in which one discipline not only does not take away from the other, but that it actually enhances.

Adding technology may be fun for engineers, but may not work theatrically. What architects want to do, may not work engineering wise. Were we able to additively combine engineering with architecture with theatre? I’ll let you decide for yourself. Reserve your tickets here.

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