International Festival
of Computer Arts

Embodiment & Microbot V.4


Embodiment & Microbot V.4

Artists Stefan Doepner, Stelarc
Embodiment & Microbot V.4

𝗠𝗶𝗰𝗿𝗼𝗯𝗼𝘁 𝗩.𝟰 is a new chapter in 𝗦𝘁𝗲𝗹𝗮𝗿𝗰’s conceptualisation of the obsolete body, addressing our fears, prejudices, and visions of extending and upgrading the human body through modern technology.

Microbot V.4 is a robotic and performative intervention into Stelarc's body, highlighting the increasing intimacy between machines and the human body and envisioning a possible future in where the body (bodies) will be colonised by micro- and nano-sensors, devices, and robots that augment our bacterial and viral populations.

Stefan Doepner has spent the past 10 years researching, developing, conceptualizing, and miniaturizing exoskeleton robots. The latest version of Microbot V.4 was developed in konS’s Laboratory for Robotics and Urban Transformation, which operates under the auspices of MKC (Youth Cultural Center) Maribor.

Microbot V.4 is part of a series of six bionic-legged robotic platforms designed by Stelarc and built by Stefan Doepner in collaboration with f18intitute from Hamburg. In 1998, they realised an exoskeleton resembling an insect-like robot with six legs and a three-metre diameter, which supported the artist's body. In 2006, they created Walking Head, a six-armed autonomous and interactive platform with a displayed avatar head and a two-metre diameter. This platform was transported by MKC (Youth Cultural Center) Maribor to Sardinia for an exhibition in April 2023 under the auspices of konS ≡ Platform for Contemporary Investigative Art. While the Exoskeleton allowed Stelarc to »inhabit« it and control the robot's movements, in the case of Walking Head, the artist's body was absent and replaced by an avatar. However, with Microbot V.4, the robot will enter the artist's body.

All three of these works are and will be exhibited in the basement exhibition space of the Cultural Incubator at Koroška 18 in Maribor until October 2024.