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Jeff Lieberman and Dan Paluska will discuss Quartet (aka Absolut Quartet which was commissioned by the Absolut Visionaries project in 2007). Awarded a Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction for Interactive Art in 2008, Quartet is installed at the Ars Electronica Center in Linz, Austria until December 2009.

Quartet is an invitation to enter into a creative dialog with a robot orchestra. There’s a trio of robots, and the human user makes it an even quartet. The latter gets things started by composing a motif and inputting it via the Internet; this lays the musical groundwork for a unique three-minute concert by the user’s robotic bandmates. The performance is recorded and saved to memory in a Web gallery. Quartet makes the Internet an interface that enables users to conceive works of art in the real world and store them in the virtual one. Moreover, the complexity of the robotic instruments is truly impressive: for instance, a six-meter-long marimba (a subspecies of xylophone) that’s played by 40 two-armed robots firing tiny rubber balls with astounding accuracy at the instrument’s wooden bars. Or a tonal array of 35 wineglasses made to reverberate by a robotic finger flitting above them. Via Internet, the human creator can take in the performance of his/her piece. See a short video of the piece here.

Dan and Jeff express themselves by any means necessary. Most of their work involves 'high technology,' but this functions only as the enabler, not the message. They are currently looking for ways to leverage human self-interest for humanity's mutual benefit. They still don't have the answers, so they practice all the time. The future is not a competition, it is a collaboration.

Jeff Lieberman
Dan Paluska