Full-scale replica at CCS MFA IxD
When first unveiled in 1968, Gordon Pask’s Colloquy of Mobiles, part of an exhibition in London called Cybernetic Serendipity, was a total surprise and a sensation. Nothing like it had ever been made, an immersive experience with independent mobiles in motion, competing and cooperating with each other. It’s been written about and lauded ever since.
When we unveiled our full-scale replica at MFA Interaction Design at CCS in Detroit on May 11, 2018, just standing around these figures generated surprising insights about human-machine interactions. Read more…
Yolanda Sonnabend. Portrait © Johnny Dewe-Mathews 1973
3D digital model
TJ McLeish and female mobile
The biggest challenge to remaking Pask’s Colloquy of Mobiles is the fabrication of the so-called “female mobiles.” Three large translucent forms, nearly 5 feet high, are extraordinary and other-worldly. They rotate and glow and react to other mobiles and to the humans moving among them with light and sound.
Equally remarkable is the rich career of their designer, Yolanda Sonnabend, who worked at the Royal Ballet in London for over 30 years. Her stage designs for the director and choreographer of the Royal Ballet involved “his more abstract” works. How fitting that she would work with Gordon Pask on the visual design of the Colloquy—for choreography it surely is. Sonnabend once said, “Design is visualization of emotions.” Her female mobiles exude emotion, for they are voluptuous, outragious, fantastical. The male mobiles designed by Pask are complementary and equally fantastical. I wish we could overhear the conversations between Pask (world-class scientist, artist) and Sonnabend (world-class stage designer, painter). Read more…
Jasia Reichardt, Curator, Cybernetic Serendipity
Portion of Pask’s Colloquy of Mobiles
(This post relates closely to our COLLOQUY 2018 Project.) In a spectacular, definitive revisiting, Jasia Reichardt, curator of the original and groundbreaking Cybernetic Serendipity from 1968, provides a walk-through of the entire exhibition in a new video from the D.C. Art Science Evening Rendezvous (images are from her talk). Read more…
Female forms (left, center, and right) and male forms (rectangular in shape, in front of the female in center). Rendered from 3D digital model.
To raise visibility and reach our funding goals, a COLLOQUY 2018 DONATE page is now available. In just a few days we’ve raised over $1,400 in individual donations from $25 to $500. We appreciate these generous gifts as well as those of our major donors, who have contributed $27K to date. We’re aiming for $34K by May 11th, our intended opening at the annual CCS Student Exhibition.
The gnarliest challenge to replicating a full-scale version of Gordon Pask‘s work for our COLLOQUY 2018 Project is the so-called “female” mobile shape for Colloquy. We consulted the extraordinary craft facilities here at College for Creative Studies and a few great local fabrication shops in Detroit. (Whoa, now I know what “rotocasting” is.) Read more…
Side-by-side comparison: Photo of original female mobile and 3D-printed model of the female body by TJ McLeish
I wonder if you’ve heard of the Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour—I love all that, all the way down to the extra ‘u’ for the UK spelling. As part of their annual conference, AISB held a Symposium in Liverpool today called Cybernetic Serendipity Reimagined, where I gave a 12-minute presentation on the status of the COLLOQUY 2018 Project (download the audio here and slides to follow along here). The presentation was a recap of progress on the project based on a paper published by AISB written by TJ McLeish, master fabricator of the COLLOQUY project, and myself.
Click here to see the video from the talk. Click here to download the PDF of the slides.
Cybernetics is often confused with robotics and AI, chip implants and biomechatronics, and more. Don’t want to disappoint you but cybernetics is none of those things (though it has a lot to say about all of them). Cybernetics is not freezing dead people, neither. (I’m hoping that’s less of a surprise. Maybe not.)
Worlds Fair Nano – March 2018 – San Francisco
Hoping to clear up all that confusion in 20 minutes, I gave a talk on Saturday, March 10th, 2018, at 2pm at Worlds Fair Nano in San Francisco.
To speak about the future of cybernetics (as in this short video) is to speak about its past and present (requiring another short video). In an era that vacillates between rampant AI utopianism and rampant AI dystopianism, what does cybernetics have to offer our future? Read more…
Colloquy as imagined and situated in staging space
No, our replica of The Colloquy of Mobiles is not yet real—this is only a photoshopped image of how it will look in our staging space in May at College for Creative Studies in Detroit (CCS). But the photo speaks our intention and hints at our progress.
The CCS MFA Interaction Design (IxD)‘s Colloquy 2018 Project— to remake Gordon Pask‘s original installation at London’s Institute for Contemporary Arts in 1968—is well under way.
CCS students have been mining the historical materials on The Colloquy and building a repository of understanding to share with the world. Read more…