Adrianne Wortzel (b. 1941)
Camouflage Town, 2001
Networked robotic installation, website, computers,
and video cameras
Commissioned by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New
York. Developed at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of
Science and Art with a grant from the National Science Foundation
and support from the NSF Gateway Engineering Education Coalition
at Cooper Union.
Camouflage Town creates a theatrical scenario for a robot
that lives in the Museum space and interacts with visitors.
The robot, named Kiru, comments on its environment and transmits
video images to monitors. It can be remotely controlled by
visitors through the computer and plays the role of a cultural
curmudgeon, mapping physical and virtual space as well as
physical and virtual identity. Kiru’s personality reflects
its ability to be each visitor’s avatar/alter ego, and
his comments play on our willingness and capabilities to interact
with a digital machine/character.
Kiru is a robot that lives here, at least for now.
Kiru says that Camouflage Town is a decoy town constructed
for the practice of military maneuvers, war, and other scenarios
of high drama. During periods when the tribe feels invincible,
Camouflage Town serves as the official battlefield to which
it lures its enemies with rumors of new treasures and tools.
Kiru says that he works as the master of opposites,with
the full title of: “Librarian of Juxtapositions In All
Their Degrees.” He and he alone is responsible for the
tracking and recording of extremes; chosen because of his
ability to withstand the stress of contradictions.
Walking up and down the lanes with bark and pen, Kiru
offers fine-tuned philosophy and juxtapositions to everyone
he meets: hot/cold, benign/lethal, inside/outside.
What he sees, the world sees.