by Joseph Thibodeau
Machine Ménagerie is an installation comprising a collection of small autonomous robots living together in a transparent enclosure. Ranging in shape and sophistication, these artificial creatures have no “function”. They spend their time entangled in a mesh of interactions with each other and the environment, much as we do. They are embodiments of certain human ideas about life and consciousness, and as such they can serve to critique definitions of intelligence and selfhood. Encountering non-biological lifelike entities, how do we attempt to understand their actions and reactions? How do we apply our concepts and assumptions of selfhood, agency and motivation to these objects, and what does it reveal about our ways of thinking?