Adrianne Wortzel

Curated by Christiane Paul
March 22 - June 10, 2001

Commissioned of Adrianne Wortzel by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and developed at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art with a grant from the National Science Foundation grant (Grant No.DUE 9980873) and support from the NSF Gateway Engineering Education Coalition at Cooper Union.

"Camouflage Town" was a telerobotic work which acts as a link between visitors to the Whitney and online visitors, attempting s to bridge two worlds, the real and the virtual.

The robot, named "Kiru", llived in the first floor Whitney museum lobby and gallery and interacted with both physical and virtual visitors wearing a mirrored costume that reflects its surroundings. It talkeds to visitors, surveilled and commented on its environment, and transmitted video imagery and sound to the Web. The robot’s movement, speech and camera were remotely controlled by visitors at the exhibition as well as through a computer terminal at the Whitney and by viewers logging in from terminals all over the world.

Whitney Museum-goers communicatef with online visitors by speaking to the robot. Their words were transmitted, along with video, to the web site. Visitors, both at the museum and on the web, had two minutes each to manipulate the robot. When autonomou, Kiru is a ‘cultural curmudgeon’ with five different personalities, all present at once: Wizard, Librarian of Juxtapositions, Philosopher, Preacher and Storyteller. Then there is a sixth personality—a blank slate—always lurking in its psyche. This slate is left to visitors to define through the robot’s speech, camera movements and motion. They create the camouflage and make Kiru a new persona.

This was the first time the Whitney Museum has exhibited an NSF-funded piece.