"Terra Incognita" -(voyaging into an unknown space.) Telerobotic web performance.
A mobile robot hosting a sculptural form of a six-week human embryo installed in the University of Piraeus, Greece, inside an "unknown" environment that hosts a second remote-controlled robot equipped with a web camera. The second robot is tele-operated by the performance audience. Symbiotic relationship between the robots is the primal step to the achievement of a synergetic procedure; an additional component is the synthetic- speech potential. The machines "communicate" with the audience by producing synthetic speech, midi sounds and changes in the colors of the transmitted video signal.
In another way of the science fiction aesthetics, the aim of the installation is to create an "unidentified" space that represents a "terra ingognita" of art, by means of an artistic concept that produces unpredictable outcomes.

First presented at Ex Teresa Arte Actual, for the X International Festival of Performance Art , "Life in Another Planet", Mexico City, October 01.



Abstract : Rapid advances in multimedia and robotic technologies have created a rich set of opportunities for incorporating new means of expression in interactive performances of literary works. "Terra Incognita",is a Java-based project that explores the interaction between various multimedia objects, robotic agents and the audience in an interactive poetry performance of Edgar Allan Poe1s "Dreamland". Based on the poem1s text, the project creates an "unidentified" space representing a "terra incognita" of art and invites the audience to explore it.

The performance consists of a mobile robot hosting a sculptural form of a six-week human embryo that moves inside an "unknown" environment hidden from the audience. This environment also hosts a second robot equipped with a video camera that can be tele-operated by the audience. The signal from the camera is broadcasted to both the robot operator which can be any audience member and to a video projector that shows a large scale version of the camera input and the user interface. While controlling the robot, the audience hears a robotic voice generated from a speech synthesizer that recites "Dreamland". This voice is mixed with audio effects that are generated in real-time and mimic the noise of a short-wave radio transmission. In addition, it is mixed with MIDI sounds that are generated by a composing algorithm linked to the movement detected by the video camera on the tele-operated robot. The performance allows the audience to explore the unknown space and develop symbiotic relationships between the tele-operated and the embryo-carrying robot through the motion commands given by the human operators to the robot and the motion reactions of the embryo-robot.

by Edgar Allan Poe

By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have reached these lands but newly
From an ultimate dim Thule-
From a wild clime that lieth, sublime,
Out of SPACE- out of TIME.
Bottomless vales and boundless floods,
And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods,
With forms that no man can discover
For the tears that drip all over;
Mountains toppling evermore
Into seas without a shore;
Seas that restlessly aspire,
Surging, unto skies of fire;
Lakes that endlessly outspread
Their lone waters- lone and dead,-
Their still waters- still and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily.
By the lakes that thus outspread
Their lone waters, lone and dead,-
Their sad waters, sad and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily,-
By the mountains- near the river
Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever,-
By the grey woods,- by the swamp
Where the toad and the newt encamp-
By the dismal tarns and pools
Where dwell the Ghouls,-
By each spot the most unholy-
In each nook most melancholy-
There the traveller meets aghast
Sheeted Memories of the Past-
Shrouded forms that start and sigh
As they pass the wanderer by-
White-robed forms of friends long given,
In agony, to the Earth- and Heaven.
For the heart whose woes are legion
'Tis a peaceful, soothing region-
For the spirit that walks in shadow
'Tis- oh, 'tis an Eldorado!
But the traveller, travelling through it,
May not- dare not openly view it!
Never its mysteries are exposed
To the weak human eye unclosed;
So wills its King, who hath forbid
The uplifting of the fringed lid;
And thus the sad Soul that here passes
Beholds it but through darkened glasses.
By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have wandered home but newly
From this ultimate dim Thule.


Concept /realization : Melanitis Yiannis :(PhD student of Athens School of Fine Arts).
Java Programming - Technical help : Sgouros Nikitas:( Lecturer of University of Pireaus, Dept of Informatics, Athens), Kousidou Sophia : (PhD student of University of Pireaus, Dept of Informatics, Athens).

2001 Melanitis Yiannis

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