PATHOS Robotic Animation Tool
June 2021 | By Pors & Rao
Artists Pors & Rao develop PATHOS: an accessible robotic animation tool
PATHOS is a platform that allows artists and non-engineers to use robotics as a performative medium of movement and response, developed by Pors & Rao. Google Arts & Culture supported Pors & Rao to develop a core element of PATHOS whilst in residence at Wyss Zurich. The result is a browser-based interface allowing one without extensive technical knowledge to directly animate motors in great detail - something that before was not possible without working closely with an advanced engineer.
Creating life-like objects using robotics
The project was first initiated by Aparna Rao and Søren Pors at NTB, Buchs in 2014 and later, in 2017 developed at an artist residency at the Wyss Zurich (ETH + UZH). The project builds on their decades-long pursuit of ideas of life-like 'beings' and sentient behaviour patterns, and the frustration they experienced when trying to realize them through the medium of robotics; a medium very hostile to non-engineers. In November 2021, the artists founded the Robotics Aesthetics & Usabily Center (RAUC) at ETH Zurich to continue the project; with the aim of opening up robotics to the field of visual arts.
Specifically, the project allows one to import or sketch multiple vector-point motion curves in a browser interface that connects wirelessly to the motors. The curve can be previewed in the browser or played directly on the motor to get immediate motion feedback. Curves can be saved in a library of choreographies. In 'live' mode one can move motion curve points on the screen and these cursor movements are then shown on the motor in real-time. The tool also provides functions like 'Stretch Curve' and 'Copy-Paste', addresses issues of safeguarding the artist's settings, technological robustness, noise and space constraints.
About Pors & Rao
Aparna Rao & Søren Pors create art that employs the use of nuanced robotic motion and response. The artist-duo is based in Bangalore and have been working together since 2004, specifically with an interest in emotion and awareness, human and animal behaviour patterns, and the expression of sentience through life-like behaviour.
They have been exhibiting internationally since 2004 and work mostly with how behavioural algorithms can animate objects and installations - as if everything is alive.