Category Archives: Exhibitions

The Serious Business of Children @ Gallery 4Culture

The Serious Business of Children (detail), 2015. Wall drawing and drawing machine.

My new project, The Serious Business of Children is showing at Gallery 4Culture for October 2015.

Robert Twomey’s room-scale mechatronic installation, The Serious Business of Children, examines issues of meaning and expression from the oblique angle of children’s pre-language. Twomey populates his room with a number of speaking, listening, and drawing machines that communicate with one another using synthesized voices and drawings in a process of continuous translation from word to image. Audio recordings and children’s drawings are the raw material of the system. They are analyzed by computer and re-synthesized by machines. The project uses children’s early expressions as protolanguage, unintelligible in any conventional sense, but communicative in other registers.

Robert Twomey’s project was inspired by the notable American philosopher John Rogers Searle. Searle, whose expertise was in the philosophy of language, developed the “Chinese room” argument to challenge the popular idea called “strong” artificial intelligence, that it’s possible for a computer running a program to have a “mind” or “consciousness” (think Hal in 2001).