Posted: September 7, 2015
Is it possible to effectively communicate tactile pedagogical messages in a heuristic tele-haptic proto-sculpting environment? The answer is yes, by using tele-haptic communication combined with gestural interaction forming a co-generated making experience.
Art-Bot is an artwork that I began to developed in 2011 as a response to a retrogression of tactual knowledge, covered by several of my writings including “Haptic transference: A new haptic feedback robotic control interface” . It is a robotic sculptural platform that facilitates a hybrid haptic material interaction between artist-hand and sculpting-machine. Art-Bot is a research creation project that addresses the knowledge deficit in object modeling and tactile material interaction, specifically in the field of interactive and generative-kinetic robotic art. We have many examples of artworks that illicit critical thought and discourse in and around tactility – with appropriated technologies of all kinds. In each case a technological development has helped us progress and transform the technology into an artifact for contemplative analysis and technological advancement. However, we have yet to manifest works that are specifically directed at excogitating and elucidating a tactile lexicon.
Art-Bot is a series of artworks that facilitate machine assisted material interaction whereby the tactile experience is given to the participant via haptic vibrotactility and force feedback. Participants enact sculptural performances using the robots and receive touch sensations in return. One version of Art-Bot, shown at Maison des arts (2013) consisted of an 8 foot robotic arm encased in an impact proof chamber with a chainsaw installed in it. Users as young as eight years old were able to manipulate and control the dangerously powerful arm to sculpt large wooden rounds. The tactile material interactions of the chainsaw were transmitted via high definition audio to a vibration speaker in the palm of the user’s hand. Also, the arm was connected to the controls via a series of mechanical linkages that gave force-felt-feedback of larger forces. The latest iteration of Art-Bot consists of three robotic arms all mounted on a table top. All three arms move in tandem and receive and transmit haptic and tactile force feedback and sound vibrotactility. One of the arms is sculpting and interacting with materials such as wood, ice or foam and the other two arms are held by two participants that can communicate to each other the movements and sensations of the materials being worked on. The sculpting robot transmits and communicates touch from all three arms to both participants. Touch is transmitted to and between the materials and the participants in a silent conversation of interactive tactile transference.
Art-Bot is therefore a technical and social experiment producing technological and cultural products. As with its predecessors; ‘Art-Bot’ follows several iterations of the definition of mechanization. ‘Art-Bot’ makes automatic , a host of sculptural movements. It augments human labor  and provides mechanical power .
Sigfried Giedion produced a survey of the industrial transformation of western society in the 1920’s with his book “Mechanization Takes Command: A Contribution to Anonymous History”  published in 1948. He opens with; “we shall inquire in the first line into the tools that have molded our present day living” .
On ‘movement’ Giedion states; “in technics, as in science and art, we must create the tools with which to dominate reality. These tools may differ. They may be shaped for mechanization, for thought, or for the expression of a feeling. But between them are inner bonds, methodological ties.” 
In as early as the nineteen forties there was a realization that methodological models of mechanization can illicit interdisciplinary bonds facilitating innovation. It may not have been realized completely and there is still the heavy handed predetermination of a lot of domain specific ideologies, but the power of machines and their capacity to mechanize events introduces a level of dynamic co-creative possibility. The tools we use to uncover and form the material reality we live in have a tremendous impact on our ability to perceive and exist in said reality.
In the case, of strict machine control, or human control, or both, a paradigm of agency is setup to juxtapose the two interacting forces of human and machines. This fictional juxtaposition is based on the impossible notion that when humans and machines interact, there is a need to identify who is in perceived control. Art-Bot joins the aforementioned examples but invites a new tertiary perspective whereby a triangle is formed with machine dominance on one side, human dominance is on the other, and a partnership of interaction at the top. At the top of the pyramid, both human and machine are appreciated for the benefits and restrictions they bring to the execution of a given task. Art-Bot causes the intersection of these elements and somewhere in the middle of the triangle, the excogitating of the knowledge embedded in hand and stone. M Rauscher, “Haptic transference: A new haptic feedback robotic control interface,” in Electronics, Communications and Networks IV, 0 vols., CRC Press, 2015, pp. 1595–1597.
 “Robots Eating Apples | Special Issue.” [Online]. Available: http://thelinknewspaper.ca/article/5178. [Accessed: 30-Jul-2015].
 “the definition of mechanize,” Merriam Webster Dictionary. .
 S. Giedion, Mechanization takes command: a contribution to anonymous history. Oxford Univ. Press, 1948.