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experimentations of a drawing robot



Speculating the Possibilities for Remote Collaborative Design Research: The Experimentations of a Drawing Robot

Rebecca Tegtmeyer and Cat Normoyle have worked remotely since 2013 practicing a critical and speculative approach to design making and research. Their research uses present technologies to speculate future possibilities for remote design collaboration, where interactions and exchanges are limited to those mediated by technological devices. Possibilities that empower individuals to reconstruct present technical tools as a means to foster collaborative design making, has surfaced throughout the duration of the research.

Their research was initiated with a survey of the current tools available for collaboration that takes place in a digital space. The findings led them to question whether these same tools could support a remote collaborative making process that takes place in the physical space. As a response to the inquiries, they built and tested multiple robots that function as an additional tool in augmenting the remote-collaborative making process. These robots are the drawing instruments that are controlled in real time through an online interface. Drawing with the robots is a way of learning the limitations and abilities of the tool; with each use, a range of opportunities for future development surfaces. The process is prioritized over the outcomes by utilizing prompts that challenge the abilities of the tool and by operating under unexpectedness, surprise, and experimentation.

Their design research continues to explore the means through which collaborative making can expand beyond digital platforms, into a physical environment, and produce collaborative drawn artifacts off the screen. By speculating a future where all collaborative experiences are initiated, explored, implemented through this robot, they challenge the standard remote collaboration experience in the design process. Conclusions expand on ways the tool can impact the remote collaborative experience by forming online connections through elements of play and experimentation, reconstructing technologies to increase technical literacy, altering the way we implement and use communication tools, and fostering new ways of making.  

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