John Tonkin in 'Signs of Life', an exhibition for 17th International Symposium on Electronic Art 2011, Istanbul
14 September – 10 October 2011

Curated by Kathy Cleland

'These robots are from John Tonkin’s nervous robots series. He is interested in how cybernetics has been used to construct computational models of different mental processes. Using a language of feedback loops and homeostatic control systems these models seek to describe the (mis)workings of the human mind. His dysfunctional robots will explore some of these computational models of mind, awkwardly hybridising bottom-up AI approaches with more classical symbolic approaches that draw from a folk psychology conception of the mind as being the home of internal mental processes such as motives, desires, phobias and neuroses.

attached/detached consists of two small autonomous robots that go through an ever shifting interplay of neediness and dismissiveness; with occasional moments of mutual happiness. These robots are primarily focussed on seeking or avoiding each other and will be oblivious to the audience. They draw on research by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth into attachment styles in adult romantic relationships. These different styles (secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant and fearful-avoidant) corresponded to different combinations of a person’s attitudes (positive or negative) towards themself and towards their partner.'

ISEA – 17th International Symposium on Electronoic Art 2011, Istanbul