The nature of artificial life

Bill Vorn - Hysterical Machines

Set up on the ground floor of Exportdrvo building in Rijeka, the interactive robotic installation Hysterical Machines of renown Canadian artist and roboticist Bill Vorn behaves just like a living being and reacts to visitors. The project is part of a larger research program on the Aesthetics of Artificial Behaviors, expressing the paradoxal nature of Artificial Life.
In the framework of Dopolavoro flagship of the Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture project, the installation will be presented on the ground floor of Exportdrvo, opening on Thursday, 13th August at 19:00, remaining on view until 5th September, every day from 17:00 to 21:00.

Tickets at a price of 10 HRK can be purchased at the entranceOn the opening day of the exhibition, admission is free.

The program is organised by Drugo more and KONTEJNER | bureau of contemporary art praxis.


Six robotic structures as basic elements of the Hysterical Machines interactive installation react to the human presence in their immediate environment. Moving across the robotic jungle in the repurposed industrial building still carrying much of its original character, the responsive nature of robots activates the senses and sets off emotional reactions as if we are in the middle of an unreal rendezvous with beings from another planet.

To which extent are our reactions induced by empathy and soft, romanticist biocentrism, as opposed to the rational perception of the octopus-like metal objects, hydraulic systems behind their movement, network of sensors, cables and machinery? How is it even possible to feel something for these beings and their indisputably dysfunctional, absurd and deviant behaviour?

Either feeling motivated to rethink the relations between human and technological, natural and artificial, a creature and a thing, or simply immersed into the chaos of mechanical limbs, sound, light and fog, Hysterical Machines is one of the paradigmatic artworks from the turn of the century, and a definitive must-see piece of contemporary robotic art.




Yes, they are metaphors. But robots are very metaphorical by nature; I just push the idea a little further. What’s important for me is to leave it open to interpretation, everyone is allowed to project whatever he/she wants onto these creatures, but if they start feeling something for a robot (sorrow, sadness, whatever) then I can say I achieved my goal.

Bill Vorn, interview for Digicult magazine


Bill Vorn, based in Montreal, creates installation and performance projects involving robotics and motion control, sound, lighting, video and cybernetic processes. He builds large-scale environments staging robots and machines as sole actors. He teaches Electronic Arts in the Department of Studio Arts at Concordia University (Intermedia program). Vorn was also a member of the band Rational Youth from 1981 to 1983, considered to be one of the first electronic music groups in Canada. He still makes Electronic Music whenever he has a chance. (Photo source: Alchetron - The Free Social Encyclopedia))
Bill Vorn, izvor fotografije - Alchetron, the free social encyclopedia

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