16.–21. Juli 2018

Amoeba with a capital B

Daniele Bortolotti & Holger Friese

The stage at the Bauhaus Dessau was a legendary site for experimentation, located inside the Bauhaus building’s main space. Here, Bauhaus teachers and students addressed and explored “the mechanical and organic body in the context of space, movement, form, color, light, and sound.” Almost 100 years after the premiere of The Triadic Ballet, we are ready to investigate the theme of mechanical and organic bodies from a new perspective. In the original Triadic Ballet, actors wore costumes, transforming themselves into mechanical bodies, and moved about the stage based on a man-made choreography. In our course, we will develop a choreography for a set of mechanical bodies: the AmoeBa. Envisioned as an installation at an early stage of development, AmoeBa consists of small robots that move around a defined exhibition space and interact with visitors. Defined parameters include the shape of the mechanical bodies, the PCB sensors/actuators, and a “playground”—all other parameters are free and open-ended. The course examines human and animal behaviors (based on the historical theory of the four temperaments), analyzing and converting these into visual abstractions and implementing the results as movement patterns. We will reflect on our own behavior and movement patterns, learn to write code for the robots, entertain the ideas of an era where human personalities were classified into choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic, and melancholic types, and explore how the relationship between the mechanical and organic body has evolved over the last hundred years.


possible choleric movement – first sketch

Best suited for: anyone with a background in art or computer science, or more broadly, anyone who is interested in human-machine interactions and wants to share their theoretical or practical expertise with the course and other participants. The course is seen as a mix between playing god and being a test subject.

Course languages: English, German, Italian

What to bring: all materials will be provided; a personal laptop would be useful.

Daniele Bortolotti (*1984, lives and works in Berlin) holds a PhD (cum laude) in Electrical Engineering from the University of Bologna. He held visiting positions at EPFL, Switzerland, TU Berlin, Germany. His original scientific focus has been on virtual platforms for multiprocessors systems-on-chip and on HW/SW design strategies for low power bio-sensors nodes operating in wireless sensors networks. Current research interests include low-power neuromorphic architectures for bio-inspired algorithms and cognitive applications. He works as a SoC architect/R&D Engineer in Paris.

Holger Friese (*1968, lives and works in Bernau bei Berlin) is a visual artist and graphic designer. In the mid to late nineties, he gained attention with his Internet-based artworks and developed and exhibited his work at documenta X, SFMOMA, and ZKM in Karlsruhe among others. In both his artistic and professional work he is interested in collaborating with other experts to expand ideas further than is possible alone. In addition to his everyday work, he has taught media design and media art at various institutions and has lectured in Germany, Europe, and North America.