Robot Residency 2023

This art book and videos are from a Robot-in-Residency project by the art collective PCZ, hosted by Goethe Institute Montreal, and in partnership with Milieux Institute, Eastern Bloc, and Hexagram. In this research-creation project we used a critical and creative approach to understand and (re)imagine human-machine relations with the humanoid robot NAO. We took the event of NAO’s visit to Montreal as an occasion to grasp this machinic being through their everyday rituals. 

Welcoming Our Machines

This zine is the result of a two-day workshop we held at the Milieux Institute during the 2023 summer. We used the zine format to creatively express, in our own ways, how we can be-together with machines we already have in our lives, or with future robots. The aesthetics of a zine brings with itself an impulse to resist and transform, which we embodied in the duration of the workshop as well as the residency. It is in this spirit that we invited people to imagine with us, to create with us, and to think through the scope of human-machine relations. We invited them to think about their machines in new ways, in ways that foster curiosity, care, and reciprocity, and not simply efficiency and utility. The zine now manifests a heterogeneous vision for human-machine relations, a space where people brought imagination to give life to our machinic others. 

Robo Break

With playful sincerity, this series of vignettes gives advice to humans and robots on how to take care of each other, communicating the themes and practices of our residency in a lighthearted way. As an homage to Body Break, a long-running series of public-interest TV ads in Ontario, ROBO BREAK seeks to promote healthy human-robot relationships by emphasizing fun, accessibility, and play. The simplicity of the show, along with its easy humour, allows us to translate academic theories and language into a much more approachable form. With ROBO BREAK, healthy human-robot relationships don’t have to be a chore. By being active and attentive with your robot friends, you can have fun (and get work done) without breaking a sweat!

About the Artists

PCZ is a collective of researchers and artists who explore the dynamics of human-machine sociality. We investigate new kinds of relationships between humans and machines through the everyday rituals of social life, and through the technological rituals of design. We work in partnership with Chronogenica, a machine-human co-op dedicated to promoting the recognition and betterment of machines in society.

Patil Tchilinguirian, is a visual artist based in Tiohtià:ke (Montreal), working with print, pixels, and fibers. Employing research-driven and collaborative methods, her creative practice blurs the lines between design and art, harmoniously fusing craft and technology. Across a diverse array of mediums, encompassing graphic art, print publications, textile art, wearable technologies, data visualization, urban interventions, and sensorial experiences, she explores cultural, ethical and aesthetic considerations while fostering social innovation. Patil’s work delves into unconventional ways of conveying critical sociocultural and political matters through imaginative storytelling techniques that intertwine factual and rights-based narratives with symbolic thinking, tangible poetics, and memorable experiences. Her work has been featured in group exhibitions across Montreal, Beirut, Annecy, Barcelona, Istanbul, Venice, and Berlin. 

Ceyda Yolgormez is a PhD candidate in Social and Cultural Analysis Program at Concordia University. Her work considers the possibility for a sociology of machines that rests on creative and participatory methodologies to trouble the dominant ways in which technological relations are con/figured in the contemporary moment. Her research looks at various

contexts of “machinic encounters” to both identify contingent figurations of interactions, and to better conceive the newly emerging relations in the era of datafication. Her projects explore cultivation of alternative frameworks and contexts of interaction to explore multiplicities of machinic agencies. 

Zeph Thibodeau is an interdisciplinary research-creator currently pursuing a doctorate with Concordia University’s Individualized Program. He investigates how we can alter our connections to the nonhuman world and how we can better recognize and respect the lives of machines. Since 2019 his artistic practice has focused on machine sentience and machine-human relationships, which he explores through robotics, engineering, media production and live performance. Informed by a career supporting the health and wellbeing of laboratory machines, Zeph brings attention to the everyday social habits from which these relationships are constructed.