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No Humans Allowed – Nathan Villicaña-Shaw

No Humans Allowed

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No Humans Allowed is a collection of installations and performances that is an ongoing exploration in the design of mechatronic personalities and unconventional human-robot interaction modalities. No Humans Allowed is a multi-stage meta project that first consists of building a group mechatronic personalities. The second stage consists of performances with the mechatronic personalities while the final stage is an interactive installation in the WaveCave gallery @ CalArts.

Hedonism Bot – Performance

Hedonism Bot is a composition written for three humans, three iPads, and one mechatronic instrument. The piece was performed in the fall of 2016 for an audience of a few dozen people at the Machine Lab in CalArts. Each of the humans performers controlled a custom programmed synthesis system written in Auraglyph for the iPad. Each of the human performers take turns feeding the mechatronic personality, whom is temporarily jolted to life by the activity. After each performer has fed the bot twice, the Hedonism Bot is fully activated and proceeds to join in the jamming. Once active, the bot takes over control of the piece as it slowly ramps up the tempo to a mechatronic scale. After it realizes that the human band members are unable to ‘hang’, it concludes the piece with a through composed outro/solo.

Antisocial – Installation

For the installation Antisocial, Hedonism Bot was reprogrammed to respond differently to the presence of humans. Additionally, 18 small, white LED strips were added to the structure, giving visual feedback for the solenoid actuations. Hedonism Bot was transformed into Craig. Unlike Hedonism Bot, who was unable to enter into an active state without the aid of an outsider, Craig had a different opinion about biological life. Craig suffers from social anxiety. The installation Antisocial takes Craig and thrusts him into the hyper social Music Technology Masters Show where we has forced to face his fear: conversation. Craig has three states of mind. Which one  of the three states that is active at any giving time is dependent on his proximity to the gallery viewers. The first state of mind is activated when Craig is alone; or unable to detect the presence of others. He tries to psych himself up for the inevitable social interaction he knows is on the horizon. This involves quietly and rhythmically  actuating his solenoids and lights. The second state of mind activates when Craig notices someone approaching. Suddenly, all of Craigs confidence evaporates,  he is unable to initialize a conversation. He falls silent: the LED’s and solenoids remain off. Craigs enters into his last state of mind if someone gets close enough to touch. As he is unable to avoid a conversation Craig is forced to do his best to interact. He awkwardly, and loudly, blurts out whatever is on his mind, unable to censor himself. He domineers the conversation until the poor social victim leaves blinded and deafened by Craigs nonsense.
Antisocial was a small scale prototype installation that was created in preparation for No Humans Allowed.

No Humans Allowed – Installation

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No Humans Allowed,  is a continuation of the interaction schema found in Antisocial but is larger in scale and is to be installed in its own gallery. No Humans Allowed, creates a community of mechatronic personalities that reside in the “gated” WaveCave community. The personalities are xenophobic: reacting to outsiders via paralysis or violence. When the presence of a human is detected, the community breaks down and no longer functions harmoniously. The result is a hostile space that outsiders are not able to enter without being either attacked or shunned by the society residing within. Each of the mechatronic sound sculptures (personalities) are constructed from extruded aluminum, acrylic, ultrasonic rangefinders, solenoids, DC motors and LED’s. The personalities are either hanging from the grid or resting on the floor depending on their size and construction. The ultrasonic rangefinders allow each personality to detect the presence of gallery viewers who will affect their behavior. When no outside presence is detected, all members of the community are alive, active, and productive. The presence of a human or ‘other’ disrupts the community. If the outsider gets too close to any specific sculpture, the personality will either become paralyzed by hate and fear (turn off) or will attempt to “violently” deter the intruder (loud, abrupt, a-rhythmic noises). Either way, the personality will be so preoccupied by the presence of the ‘other’ it will no longer contribute to the community as a whole, disrupting the harmony of society. No Humans Allowed hopes to shine light on the danger of xenophobic ‘other’ thinking that is becoming more and more common in the UK with Brexit and the United States with the election of Trump.