Occu-bot can protest in places that human civil disobedience is not allowed, and it can also replace human protesters.
‘Automatic protester’ is a set of physical tools designed support activists and eventually replace human from the protest scene. Learning from Occupy Wall Street and Arab Spring, it is clear that social movement is heavily mediated through new media technology. Similar technology can be used to enforce hegemony of power and also as a tool for distributed collective action and participation. Government agencies are investing on artificial intelligence and unmanned vehicles to further control people in revolt. It is the time, we activists, to build practical and symbolic tools to continue protesting in the age of ‘non-human’ public space. The tools are built with material that will cohere with the New York City law for picketing, such as corregated cardboard, styrofoam and electricity will run on low voltage battery and solar cell. The series include ‘Occu-bot’, hand-made electronic protester that continuously occupies public space, ‘Noise Collector’, a dog that records and plays back urban sound via non-electronically amplified megaphone.
Performance December 25. 2011
Management-bot, also known as the Financier, is a walking robot that accompanies the Occu-bot. It is made of two stepper motors running on H-Bridge and an Arduino microcontroller. It’s characteristics involve being able to move forward and backward, and moving one feet forward while moving the other one backward. It is fully programmable and can take other sensor inputs. It’s motto is ‘Management desires Management of Managements.’ Barking-bot is a megaphone dog that confronts the Occu-bot and protects the Management-bot. It is made of a megaphone, amplifier and an mp3 player. It’s body is made of found wood and wheels. Barkingbot is not able to make noise in the public space according to New York law, but it can still serve and protect Management-bot.
All hardware by Taeyoon Choi with an assistance of Claire Arbitz on gear box.
Performance photography by Jongchul Lee
Occubot runs on 12v Battery. It has Arduino controlling a single Servo motor which is programmed to move from one position to another in repetition. A custom gears were designed to make the picket move up and down.
Gear box sketch by Claire.
Laser-cut picket and a few lego blocks were taped to keep it from going too low.
Inside of gear box, see the servos and gear. This is mostly handiwork of Claire.
Wood box keeps gears safe from hard and also works as a rail to guide to picket going up and down
The first prototype for a mechanical protester, made a few months before Occupy began
This is the first prototype for Barking Dog bot.
This is the Management bot. It dreams management of management.
It also runs on Arduino, and also two darlingtons.
These are two stepper motors which I found in Eyebeam dumpster. They run great.
A note from 9/27/2011
Yesterday, I went to the Wall street occupation in Liberty Park near the World Trade Center. There were few hundred of protesters, squatters and tourists and at least a hundred police and a couple dozen media people. It was a bit chaotic mix of exuberant energy and confusing signs and voices. The mood was festive and everyone was easily accessible for conversations. There were lots of interesting looking people, very fashionable anarchists and activists. They made a monument from cardboard pickets on the ground, which had simple messages and sometimes long statements or manifestos.
The festivity reached a climax when Michael Moore came to speak, I stumbled upon being fairly close to him and heard his speech. I too wish this is like the Arab spring or beginning of Anti-Capitalist resistance, an occupation as a form of peaceful direct action. However, there were much debates and questions about what the action is directly for. If an action has multiple voices, what are the underlying agenda that govern their non-governance? Multitude is a term that can be applied easily as a concept, but difficult to be employed in real life politics. That was the problem that the media was having with this specific occupation, because they could not paraphrase the event into a single sentence. To them, the event seemed to be an undirected angst and expression of frustration by unemployed and overeducated young Americans. However, to the people who were participating in it, and especially for the ones who were devoted in any of the working groups, this was an experiment in new kind of democracy. The developed series of hand signals, rules, and codes that apply within their community and especially during ‘General Assembly’ where everyone is supposed to have a voice. I sat in a facilitator training and general assembly to learn how they proceed with this seemingly impossible task of creating a structure for conversation and discussion. It was sophisticated and well intended. On the other hand, there was a growing population of the people sleeping in the park, and not enough space to host meetings. It also seemed like some people with minor opinions were ruled out by the majority. Some of my friends who work near the Liberty Park came to visit and their critique was–These people are not actually starting a dialogue, that they were yelled at for being white collar worker, that this collective is yelling out abstract demands without specific agenda, and that their demands are idealistic and not realistic. I am still processing all the ideas and opinions that I heard last night. I loved the energy that the group had and sporadic conversations that were generated by the bodies being together. At the least, this can be a learning experience for the participants, a shared asset which they can take to organize something in near future at places not only in NYC but every Wall street in the US and abroad. At the best, this can lead to a production of culture that will inspire others and the younger generation, hopefully a beautiful movie, poetry, visual art etc. If I too take on a very optimistic point of view, this event can lead to change in policy and public awareness about the issues they are fighting against. But, if they ask again, what are the issues? there are too many, and they are all too important issues. I think one of the thing they can definitely get out of an event like this is finding new friends to work with. Even if the occupation does not lead to direct change or challenge to Capitalism, if the participants can meet new friends to continue working with, I think it’s a great benefit.