Posts Tagged ‘Cybernetics’

1964-5 – Robot Art – Enrique Castro-Cid (Chilean)

castro cid anthropomorphics 1 2 1964 x640 1964 5   Robot Art   Enrique Castro Cid (Chilean)

Anthropomorphicals I and II. 1964. Plexiglass and Aluminum. 65in. x 20in. x 24in. Richard Feigen Gallery, New York. 1965.


Source: Beyond Modern Sculpture - Jack Burnham 1968

It would be misleading to classify [Hans] Haacke as an artist primarily devoted to applying cybernetic principles to mechanical artifacts; rather his interests are in those cyclical processes which manifest evidences of natural feedback and equilibrium. One might call this an environmental systems philosophy, one that has little to do with practical or theoretical science. Instead it reveals a keenly sensual attitude toward the most ephemeral phenomena.
Clearly in opposition to Haacke's position is the Chilean presently living in New York City, Enrique Castro-Cid. The early drawings of Castro-Cid demonstrate a strong awareness of cybernetics as it is beginning to affect our notions of human physiology. These working drawings progressively substitute machine components for their anatomical equivalents. It is evident from the author's conversation with the artist that Castro-Cid has read deeply in the literature of mechanical evolution and the mind-body problem of classical philosophy. He senses that the possibilities of man-machine interaction are richer than ever before. Thus, his newer constructions depend more on this awareness and less on prevailing tastes in sculpture.

Enrique Castro Cid 1965 Richard Feigen Gallery x640 1964 5   Robot Art   Enrique Castro Cid (Chilean)
Since Castro-Cid's first robot exhibition in 1965, the artist has moved toward a more sophisticated awareness of man-machine interactions, in which anthropomorphism plays a diminishing role. The early robots (FIG. 126) are interesting for their painful sterility : no longer the clanking metallic beasts of the 1920's, these are more akin to humans divested of their corporeal form, mere brains placed in bell jars with appropriate electrodes inserted, sending commands to mechanical limbs. This contemporary electronic man is encased antiseptically in a clear plastic enclosure ; a vestigial anatomy drawn on the background hints faintly at a once biological life. Wiring and small components take the place of tendons and blood. Anthropomorphic I (1964), while suggesting the lapidary effect of a micro "mechanical brain," is technologically an unartful assemblage of synchron timing motors, a set of mechanical relays and a handful of light bulbs—all used to terrifying effect. But, reduced to its functional definition, this machine has none of the goal-seeking, self-stabilizing ability of even such relatively simple animals as Grey Walter's Machina speculatrix; it is, indeed, a mock robot.
Lately Castro-Cid's energies have gravitated toward a mode of sculpture which could be termed "cybernetic games." These are imposing, boxlike systems sometimes powered by air jets which keep plastic spheres moving within a defined cycle of positions. The trajectories of these bouncing balls are limited but appear to be random. There is a kind of ultra-precision to these constructions which implies more ultimate purpose than that invested in most New Tendency kinetic works ; they simulate the precise, instantaneous technology of a computer system in which playfulness is merely an aspect of some greater hidden function. The poetic imprecision of these games as On and Off—exists in the fact that they imitate a level of technology which they have little hope of duplicating. On the white surface of the compressed air sculptures are painted green areas which suggest different functions. The chasses of the games are extended into nonpurposeful shapes which contains no interior equipment.
What electromechanical components (photocells, electromagnets, air compressors and film projectors) Castro-Cid does use are invariably endowed with a certain forbidding and brittle austerity. Here the motion-picture form becomes the means for projecting a changing image with more substance than the imposing chassis housing it. While the chances for man-machine interaction often remain restricted with these sculptures, their real purpose, in terms of future art, is apparent : the joining of dissimilar systems into playful semi-automatic games in which the human operator can be seduced by an element of unpredictability while charged with the impression of strong purpose. In terms of their psychic complexity these works may appear to be trivial, but as a means of introducing ideas for reshaping the world they transcend the single-purpose machines of Kinetic Art and move beyond the limitations of scientific Constructivism.
It may be argued, justifiably, that modes of art do not transcend each other; they simply are. Yet a fundamental quality of art which has become possessed by technology is its tendency to follow the ascending spiral of sophistication defined by technology, either real or conceptual. Style, thus, becomes a ramification of a certain technological level, and a stable non-evolutionary technology would in effect produce a styleless art, if the results of such a marriage could still be termed art.
While it is reasonable to suppose that the constructions of Castro-Cid cease to represent the classical image of sculpture, it is equally relevant to question whether figures in bronze and marble still symbolize the form-creating ambition of our culture. It is obvious that they do not, and we are less and less inclined to pretend that they do. It has been retorted, though, that an art form so intensely technical as Cyborg Art cannot but lack in spiritual vigor. Still, we might answer with Spengler: what a culture shapes with its life blood—be it an ethical system, architecture, or a spaceship—represents the quintessence of its spiritual destiny. An artist such as Castro-Cid constructs mock cybernetic systems, not in hopes of producing another stylistic tremor, but because they represent the technical and spiritual will of our civilization.


 1964 5   Robot Art   Enrique Castro Cid (Chilean)

Enrique Castro-Cid , 1965.

Source: Cornell Daily Sun-1965
Enrique Castro-Cid Chilean Artist's Robots Show Machines Can be Playful

By DIANE P. WEINSTEIN

Two foot-tall robots on a large plexiglas platform playfully buffet and "elbow" each other about. A larger robot moves across the floor with a pumping red, rubber heart in his chest. A fourth, confined to a basin under a plexiglass dome shifts futilely back and forth. Another waves red tentacular arms in slow circles and blinks a solitary light bulb. Their creator is Enrique Castro-Cid, a young Chilean artist and art critic with long, thick black hair and a generous smile. Castro-Cid arrived at the University yesterday as a guest of the College of Architecture and will remain on campus until tomorrow, lecturing, observing classes and criticizing the artwork of Cornell students. Although his family encouraged a legal career, Castro-Cid was diverted from law school to the study of art and served as an assistant professor of drawing in Chilean University. The difficulties of making a living in Chile, where artists receive few subsidies and awards, led him to the United States four years ago. Castro-Cid has since had two successful one-man shows and was recently awarded a $5000 Guggenheim Fellowship. His unique creations glide, stalk, hover, float, flirt and even think. This past month a force of Castro-Cid's robots and automotons flashed their playful personalities and conquered New York City's Feigen Art Gallery. Children were fascinated, but their parents were more captivated by these plexiglass, wood, and plastic robots and rapidly bought out the show. Modern society, Castro-Cid feels, is unduly preoccupied with the "Faustian" evil of machines. Much of today's science ficton depicts a bleak future where unfeeling, dominant machines enslave their human creators. For many, automation portends mass unemployment and a society suffocated by the glut of leisure time. A cheerful advocate of the idyllic "Dionysian" society, Castro-Cid is most optimistic about the present trend. Contrary to traditional belief, he feels that labor is not the moral ideal. He makes the sympathetic observation that "to work is terrible if it is not thoroughly enjoyed" and hopes that automation will make the drudgery of labor obsolete. His machines are "playful" and personable and therefore very likeable. They were originally intended for Castro-Cid's own amusement, and their foremost purpose is to be enjoyed. The inventions, however, also illustrate some of the complexities of modern life. Two ping pong balls, red and black, fight for a single current inside a wire container. The head-shaped cage, Castro-Cid explains, represents the human mind where ideas compete for precedence in a randomly-directed stream of thought. An electric train buffets a black ping pong ball around a circular track. At one point the ball is trapped by an upward stream of air while the circum-navigating train tries to pass a loop around it. Statistically, Castro-Cid explains, the shakily hovering ball should pass through the hoop in two out of every 20 trips. Castro-Cid added he believes this paradox of the "limited or ordered random", freedom within a restricted area, reflects the condition of modern man. Accident and order are equally significant in human existence, he said. Castro-Cid explained he has attempted to demonstrate the complexities of the machines and the human mind by mimicking both in his anthropomorphic technology. He does not ally himself with "pop" artists who, he claims, establish their rather weak points by mis-placing everyday objects such as soup cans and brillo boxes. He was enthusiastic, however, about the work of Cornell student artists who he considers "on the par with professionals." Castro-Cid's first show, entitled "Ideas for Fantastic Zoology," dealth with compound anatomies, his preoccupation before robot art. Inspired by studies in the American Museum of Natural History, the artist concocted "jaberwocky" creatures whose organs and appendages logically fulfilled the animal's needs. Castro-Cid explained this inventiveness in painting to mechanical innovation. Working at home, frequently in energetic late-night sprints, he has produced 20 works in the past seven months.


Enrique Castro-Cid – Pioneer in Latin American Art
Published: August 17, 2011 – Source – here

Enrique Castro-Cid burst onto the art scene with ferver.  He had arrived in the United States to a hungry New York City waiting for the next big thing.  Awards, Guggenheim Fellowship Grants, exhibitions at galleries and museums followed briskly after his early 1960's arrival.  He immediately became a darling of the art world.  Dashing good looks and a Latin American style led him to marry first a Harper's Bazaar cover model, Sylvia, and then an art patron, Christophe de Menil.  Enrique Castro-Cid formed and broke relationships.  Forming and breaking are two sides of the same coin.  The human form is as it looks, until of course you change the perspective, the coordinates plotted onto a graph in space, change your way of seeing.  Welcome to a look inside the world of Enrique Castro-Cid.

He was born in Santiago, Chile in 1937.  Art studies at the Escuela de Bellas Artes at the Universidad de Chile would commence some 20 years later.  Shortly after his studies came to a close, he found his way to New York City.  His loft was something artists dreamt about, huge and full of potential.  That was Enrique Castro-Cid.  He was a larger than life figure whose ideas about art could not be confined to a mere three dimensions.  He wanted more.  Four, five, six.  Why did there have to be limits on the imagination?

He pioneered the relationship of computers, geometry and art.  His vision was one of space-time.  His limitless imagination and command of the computer in the 1960's and 1970's allowed him to create art that would be conceivable in the computer, but difficult to represent – five dimensional space being one of those ideas.  He would come to be considered an avant-garde psychologist of perception.  He experimented with pictorial space and with geometric transformations.  He took his art and way of understanding to another level.  Or two…

Castro-Cid drew our attention to many questions.  How do we perceive a deformation?  How do we perceive a face?  Is a face a face whether it is smiling, frowning or impassive?  How do we know that expression, if we have never seen the face before?  His art explored these concepts.  He would draw the human nude form and the outline of that form would be plotted carefully on a graph.  As he changed the formula and the equations, the outline of the form would seem to distort.  The equations were then changed to such a degree that the form, once known to us, now seemed almost unrecognizable.  Or, were we looking at the process backwards?  Were we looking into other dimensions?

But perhaps, he as an artist was only experimenting with these ideas and never meant to delve so deeply into such questions.  But that is the nature of art.  It beckons you close, then pulls you in.  You are asked to understand something that may never be understandable.

Castro-Cid's time in New York City had come to a close, he headed for warmer climes and arrived in Miami in the 1980's.  Of course, once again he was a celebrated figure on the art scene and was once again given many awards and exhibitions.  He lived a fast paced life in Miami, a roller coaster ride for all those who dared to climb on board.  He was a Latin American artist living the American dream.  Following his desires, his dreams and his own path into space.  He created art for a select few who cared enough to see his vision.

The technology of Computer Aided Design and such new programs as are used today, can see their ancestry in his art.  Certainly a branch of the family tree.  He was the root.  He helped to create a movement that exists to this day.  His work has long lived past him.  He died of a heart attack in 1992.  54 years.   A lifetime of ideas.  A vision that will last the test of space-time.


Trivia

It has been claimed elsewhere that Castro-Cid constructed the hound for the movie "Fahrenheit 451" .  If he did, it was never used.

Fahrenheit 451 (first screened 1966)
The Making of Fahrenheit 451 (as per DVD bonus) – Reference to "The Mechanical Hound"

Ray Bradbury: One of the flaws of the film, for me, is the absence of the Mechanical Hound, because he's a feature that helps tell you about the future.

Producer Jay Presson Allen: I thought the robotic dogs and so on would be very, very difficult and really not what he [RB] was trying to do and , I mean, it would be very distracting, in fact, from the simple story of the books, which is really what he was interested in most of all so I think he was quite proper to avoid, the more or less conventional science fiction. there were so many coming out at that point, and I think they made the right decision to withdraw from that and not make that the overwhelming aspect of the film.


 

1959 – Sverdlovsk Cybernetic Tortoise – (Soviet)

Kybernetische Schildkrote 0001 x640 1959   Sverdlovsk Cybernetic Tortoise   (Soviet)


English text translated from the original German: (for pictures and diagrams, see pdf below)

The Cybernetic Model "Tortoise"
Cybernetics – In recent years, a new science was born. It enables machines to replace with highly skilled human labor, eg by electronic calculators. These machines are very complicated in structure, and only specialists with high qualifications to deal with them properly.
To the study of cybernetics are very well cybernetic models with information stores, which the animal brain can exert partial analog functions. One such model is the "turtle" developed by the Institute of Automation and robot of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Publication of its construction in the magazines "knowledge is power" and "Radio" No. 3/1958 encouraged the study groups for robot and automatic Young engineer at the stations in Sverdlovsk region at this, even to make such a model.
Figure 11
View of the model
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The present article is roughly the construction of such a "turtle" described, it is very easy as standardized components can be used.
The main task of this model is to help the students of the upper classes while the basics of automation and cybernetics studieren.1
The behavior of the "turtle"
Observed the movements of the "turtle" obstacles creates the impression that they possess animal-related reflections. Reacts to light you on audio signals and also bumping into.. Though primitive, but it has an organ of sight, hearing a , a sense of touch and memory (memory with a conditioned reflex can be briefly formed).
Here is the proof of their sensitivity to light., The "turtle" moves in a circle on their base until they discovered the source of light is the light beam detected, it moves straight to the lamp to the visual system consists of a photoresistor This photo resistor switched on.. light on the relay d 1 the control magnet (Part VII) from, so that the move can "turtle" straight. Here comes the "turtle" an obstacle, they returned a short run to move again after a little sideways rotation forward. This process is repeated as many times until a way is found to get around the obstacle.
Audio signals to the "turtle" reacts in the following way: If a whistle is given, it will stop for about a second.
The interesting thing about the "turtle" but their "memory", which is the formation of a conditioned reflex of importance. A conditioned reflex occurs whenever different, but at least two stimuli are combined. For the "turtle" the combination of sound and shock stimuli was chosen. Exceeds the "turtle" an obstacle and at the same moment you will hear a whistle, the result is a conditioned reflex. Now "suspects" the "turtle" at every whistle a
1 The "Turtle" is a principled solution for a cybernetic model that responds to three stimuli and can emerge a "conditioned reflex". There are of course also other variants, you can work with transistors that use other relays and also make the program more extensive. However, this model is to encourage the work of communities of our country to deal with such problems and also to develop new technical solutions in creative work.
90
Obstacle and executes the corresponding movements to bypass the obstruction. After a certain time (this time is determined by the corresponding timer) goes out of the conditioned reflex again, if not both stimuli occur simultaneously again.
Cybernetic models have generally fulfill an experimental feature. With them it is possible to simulate individual processes of the nervous activity of the living organism. Analogies are derived from the behavior of living organisms and machines for the development of automatic information processing systems is of utmost importance. This makes it possible logical actions performed by the person on the basis of information to transmit cybernetic machines or mechanisms. This has great significance for the growth of labor productivity. The introduction of automatic regulation and control in the production always leads to a significant acceleration of production and to increase the quality. Automated systems and aggregates react precisely, not tired and are less sluggish than man.
The circuit of the "turtle"
In the overall structure and the "turtle" there were the following problems to solve:
1 Recording the information (light, sound, shock). Forward to a computing element and storing the information in the formation of the conditioned reflex.
2 Realization of the output information by movement of the drive and control mechanisms. To achieve these objects both electronic and electro-mechanical units are required.
The schematic diagram (Fig. 12) shows the circuitry recording, processing and transformation of information into control operations. For a better overview, the individual units were included only in the block.
Part I
As a photo sensor resistor is used. It is also a photocell or a photo element to use, but then an electronic amplifier is required. The potentiometer 1M ohms lin is used to control the sensitivity of the photoresistor. The sensitivity
91
11 part
As a simple two-pole contact feeler is used. By the contact of the circuit of the left coil of the relay d 2 is closed when pushed. This is triggered by relay d 4 and d 5, the backward and sideways movement. The timer IV (Z 1) finished the operation after a short time.
Figure 13
The photoresistor circuit for Part I
24V Figure 14
Circuit of the touch probe for Part II
Figure 12 a schematic diagram for the technical operation of the turtle
Part III
As a probe microphone (single crystal microphone) is used. A two-stage amplifier where the incoming audio signal is enhanced in that a rectifier bridge in the left coil of the relay 3 d, a corresponding current flows. It is recommended that the sound frequency of the amplifier set so that only signals of a particular frequency will be processed in order to avoid interference from external noise.
Figure 12b with this circuit for the relay d 1 and d 4 maneuverability at around obstacles can be increased
is set so that the photo-resistor is not responding to diffuse light. For this reason, the use of a simple lens (Fig. 18) is very convenient.
92

Figure 15 circuit of the microphone amplifier for Part III (the tubes correspond about our EF 14)
93
When switching the relay relay d 3 d 6 is turned on and brought the turtle briefly to a halt. The duration of this operation is controlled by the second timing element (Z 2).
Part IV
The two timing elements Z 1 and Z 2 have a memory function. The incoming signal triggers an operation and will be for a short time (the duration is determined by the combination of C 2, R 6 set) is stored. No signal, the circuit for both windings of the relay d 2 and d 3, and C 2 is interrupted current. If a signal that flows in the left-hand winding of the relay power d 2 or d 3, and switched by the relay. Here, C 2 invites to over R 6 and the glow lamp ignites. Thus, the circuit of the right coil of the relay is closed briefly and the process ends. The circuit is therefore only briefly closed because it is unloaded immediately after switching the capacitor C through R 1 second For this circuit polarized relays are provided with zero position. However, it can be used with two windings, simple relays, however, the circuit has to be changed.
Figure 16
Circuit of the timers (Z 1, Z 2) of Part IV
Part V
The timer Z 3 is required to form the "conditioned reflex." If simultaneously on II and III, a signal, then the relay d 4 and d 6 set the grid of the tube for a short time to ground and discharging the capacitor C 10 . makes the anode current and the relay d 7 increases attracts. According to charging of C 10 drops in the tube again, the anode current., the time for charging of C 10 corresponds to the duration of the "conditioned reflex" (for the present model were about two minutes selected).
94
Figure 17
Circuit for the timer Z 3 in Part V
Part VI
As a drive motor an electric motor is used 24 V with the field winding. Ports 1 and 2 are for the field winding and are used to change the direction of rotation by the relay d 5 reversed. Via the terminals 3 and 4, the armature of the motor is fed.
By Relais d 6 is the exchange Contact 6b in a sound, the power supply is interrupted to the collector and the model stopped for a short time. The speed should be about 5 to 10 cm / s. With appropriate variation of the circuit can be used also a Permamotor.
Part VII
This part constitutes an electromagnet by means of which the circular motion of "tortoise" is controlled. Smaller no light on the photoconductor, then the circuit of the electromagnet is closed. This
Figure 18 look for the photo resistor
95
Figure 18a The turtle Elsie
On the shell of the turtle a candle (1) had been secured, a second candle (2) was placed at some distance. Between the candle and the turtle was a barrier (3). The shutter of the camera was opened and the turtle was left to itself. Your path is recorded in the photo. (4) starting position of the turtle (it starts moving toward the light source). (5) collision with the obstacle. (6), bypassing the restoration of the obstacle and movement direction of the light source. (7) The turtle happened to approach very close to the candle, the light was quite strong, the turtle was forced to retreat, they bypassed the candle. (From: IA Poletayev: Cybernetics German VEB Verlag der Wissenschaften, Berlin 1962, page 233.)
Figure 19 Base plate with drive and control
is given to the steering wheel, a rash of 20 °. In light relay drops d 1, and the steering wheel gets a straight-ahead position.
The mechanical structure
The "turtle" has an oval shape and the drive control is initially in the size of 220 mm X 290 mm. Built on the base plate. Assembly of electronic equipment should be done only when the drive and control function properly.
The chassis is composed of three rubber wheels, the diameter should be about 50 to 60 mm.
The Figure 19 shows the basic mechanical structure of the drive and the controller. For driving a double worm reducer was chosen because it allows the use of small gears. The arrangement of the worm gears and is shown in Figures 20 and 21.
96
Figure 20 Cross-section A A
Figure 21 section B B
7 [28004]
97
At the intended speed of 50 to 100 mm / s and the given wheel diameter, the rotational speed of the drive shaft does not exceed 20 to 30 U / min. In the example used with 32 and 24 teeth for a motor with 6000 to 8000 r / min and two common worm gears. If other wheels or a different motor is used, the reduction must be recalculated.
Greater friction loss can be avoided if only one wheel is rigidly connected to the drive shaft.
Figure 22 Cross-section C C
The principle of the magnetic control is seen in Figure 19 and 22. The steering wheel is located in a fork, in which a lever is attached. On this lever is effected by the solenoid, the spring, or a control stop. The stop control should be about 20 ° when the electromagnet. The steering wheel by the coil spring is held in the normal position.
Freely edited by a methodical instructions of the station Young Engineers in Sverdlovsk, published in 1959.


 See pdf of referenced chapter hereKybernetische Schildkrote 0000 x160 1959   Sverdlovsk Cybernetic Tortoise   (Soviet)


Sverdlovsk, name of the city of Yekaterinburg, Russia, from 1924 to 1991
Sverdlovsk, Ukraine, a town in Ukraine.

I suspect this Tortoise is from the Russian Sverdlovsk, not the Ukraine.


 

1966 – Kybernetisches Demonstrationsmodell Schildkröte – Otto von Guericke University (German)

Schildkrote 66 1 1966   Kybernetisches Demonstrationsmodell Schildkröte   Otto von Guericke University (German)

Kybernetisches Demonstrationsmodell Schildkröte
1966 Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg

Als Ergebnis einer fast 2jährigen Arbeit der AG "Regeltechnik" im Haus der Pioniere kann ein kybernetisches Demonstrationsmodell vorgestellt. werden – die Schildkröte. Das Modell wurde bereits mehrfach ausgezeichnet. Hier Dipl.-Ing. Walther und Christine Poethke (Wilhelm-Weitling-Schule) bei der Überpfüfung der Lenkanlage der Schilkröte. (UA)
Schildkrote 66 2 1966   Kybernetisches Demonstrationsmodell Schildkröte   Otto von Guericke University (German) 
Die "Eingeweide" der Schildkröte. Sie hat 2 Fotozellen als "Augen", 2 Mikrophone als "Ohren", 2 Motoren zum Antrieb und einen Motor zur Lenkung. (UA)
——–Google Translation————
As a result of almost 2 years of work of the AG "Control systems" in the House of Pioneers, a cybernetic model presented demonstration. be – the turtle. The model has already won several awards. Here Ing. Walther and Christine Poethke (Wilhelm-Weitling-school) in the steering mechanism of Überpfüfung Schilkröte. (UA)
 
The "guts" of the turtle. She has 2 photo cells as "eyes", 2 microphones as "ears", 2 motors to drive and a motor for steering. (UA)

Original article sourced from here.


 

1950 – “Tinius” the Cybernetic Turtle – Rice University (America)

rice engineering show 1950 centennial tortoise x640 1950   Tinius the Cybernetic Turtle   Rice University (America)

Tinius the Cybernetic Turtle c1950 – An engineering student takes a robot through its paces, 1950.  [RH-2013- Although looking like a turtle (tortoise) which suggests being a Grey Walter-inspired machines, With it two "eyes" appearing as though it is fixed to the steering, suggests more that it is just phototropic i.e. it is attracted to and will follow a light source as per Norbert Wiener's Moth.]

In 1920, the 1st Rice Engineering Show draws 10,000 spectators from across the city of Houston (Texas) to Rice's campus. Student exhibits include a "bucking bronco," magnetic stunts, nitroglycerin explosions, X-ray demonstrations and a radio-controlled car. The shows continue to draw huge crowds every other year through 1940. An Exposition of Science and Art held in 1950, 1954 and 1956 expands the audience but is phased out after 1956.

Article sourced from here.


 

W. Grey Walter’s Tortoises – Self-recognition and Narcissism

Self-recognition and the Mirror Dance

WGW Elmer MirrorDance Diag W. Grey Walters Tortoises    Self recognition and Narcissism

[Image source: An Imitation of Life,  Scientific American, May 1950, p42-45.]

7 . Self-recognition. The machines are fitted with a small flash-lamp bulb in the head which is turned off automatically whenever the photo-cell receives an adequate light signal. When a mirror or white surface is encountered the reflected light from the head-lamp is sufficient to operate the circuit controlling the robot's response to light, so that the machine makes for its own reflection; but as it does so, the light is extinguished, which means that the stimulus is cut off — but removal of the stimulus restores the light, which is again seen as a stimulus, and so on. The creature therefore lingers before a mirror, flickering, twittering, and jigging like a clumsy Narcissus. The behaviour of a creature thus engaged with its own reflection is quite specific, and on a purely empirical basis, if it were observed in an animal, might be accepted as evidence of some degree of self-awareness. In this way the machine is superior to many quite 'high' animals who usually treat their reflection as if it were another animal, if they accept it at all.

Source: p115, W. Grey Walter, The Living Brain, 1953 -see chapter 5 – Totems, Toys, and Tools


What can be seen or determined in the photo of Elsie below?  

1. tracer candle visibility;

2. low batteries (because it enters the hutch which is strategically placed to the right of the mirror).

 W. Grey Walters Tortoises    Self recognition and Narcissism

Figure 7. Elsie performs in front of a mirror, but is probably responding to the candlelight rather than to her pilot light. [RH 2010 -Most earlier comments by others are of this rather un-clear image of the so-called 'mirror dance'.]

Prior to the release of the clearer Life image of Elsie performing the 'mirror dance' (see pic below) Holland in "Legacy of Grey Walter" describes it as follows:

Recognition of self
A pilot light is included in the scanning circuit in such a way that the headlamp is extinguished whenever another source of light is encountered. If, however, this other source happens to be a reflection of the headlamp itself in a mirror, the light is extinguished as soon as it is perceived and being no longer perceived, the light is again illuminated, and so forth. This situation sets up a feedback circuit of which the environment is a part, and in consequence the creature performs a characteristic dance which, since it appears always and only in this situation, may be regarded formally as being diagnostic of self-recognition. This suggests the hypothesis that recognition of self may depend upon perception of one’s effect upon the environment.


The below from Discussions on Child Development,  1971, see Book II 1954-56 p35-6.

 W. Grey Walters Tortoises    Self recognition and Narcissism

p35.

With Fig. 6 we come to some of the refinements which emerged only some time after these creatures had been made. This mode of behaviour and the next one were, quite frankly, surprising to us though, of course, we ought to have been able to predict them. Fig. 6 illustrates the situation when a creature of this type is confronted by its reflection in a mirror. It has on its nose a small pilot light, put in originally to tell us what was happening inside; it is so arranged
p36.
that it is turned off when the creature sees another light; that is, it tells us when the photo-tropistic mechanism is in operation.
In this case, the light which the creature was allowed to see was its own pilot light in the mirror. In this situation, the act of 'seeing' it makes it automatically extinguish the light which it sees. The apparent stimulus light having been extinguished, it turns it on again, then off and so on, so that you get a characteristic oscillation. You can see how peculiar and regular it is by the zigzag going up the side of the mirror. This is an absolutely characteristic mode of behaviour, which is seen always and only when the creature is responding to its own reflection. This is an example of the situation I described in the second proposition, where the reflexive circuit includes an environmental operator; in such a situation you get a characteristic mode of behaviour which occurs always and only when the model is reacting to itself.


Narcissism

“The creature therefore lingers before a mirror, flickering, twittering and jigging like a clumsy Narcissus” (Grey Walter, 1963, p. 115). Grey Walter interpreted this famous mirror dance as evidence of self-recognition.

WGW Elmer MirrorDance Diag W. Grey Walters Tortoises    Self recognition and Narcissism

The drawing of the famous `mirror dance’ in `An imitation of life’ [from Scientific American] is nothing like the regular alternation between the tortoise's approach and avoidance as shown in the photograph, being an altogether more irregular and complex trajectory. There may well have been a mirror dance that could have been argued to be a form of self-recognition, but unfortunately this photograph cannot be said to be a record of it. The brightest light visible to the camera, and presumably to the photocell, is the candle on the tortoise’s back and its reflection in the mirror. The trace is far more likely to reflect the alternation of behaviour pattern P (approach to the reflected candlelight) with behaviour pattern O (obstacle avoidance on contact with the mirror). We can be sure that Walter used this image as an example of the mirror dance because it appears in the form of a diagram in the transcript of a talk he gave in 1954 (Walter 1956b); the text matches closely the account given in `Accomplishments of an artefact’. Interestingly, the description of the mirror dance in de Latil’s book also matches this photograph rather than Grey Walter’s original description and Bernarda Bryson Shahn’s sketch.


For most people, with regards to the image above (see figure 7), one could hardly refer to this behaviour as "flickering, twittering and jigging like a clumsy Narcissus". However, you could do so to the above illustration by Bernarda Bryson (partner and later married to the artist Ben Shahn), as illustrated in Scientific American (Walter, W. Grey, "An Imitation of Life," Scientific American, May 1950, p42-45.). The above illustration is actually of Elmer, and not Elsie as is the below photo. This also gives more credence to Grey's use of the word Narcissus, being the son of a Greek god who became obsessed by his own image. [Elmer scans clockwise, the opposite of Elsie and the bump aviodance traverse therefore is from right to left. see here.]

[Narcissus : In Greek mythology, a beautiful youth who fell in love with his own reflection. He was the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Leriope. His mother was told by a seer that he would have a long life, provided he never saw his own reflection. His callous rejection of the nymph Echo or of his lover Ameinias drew upon him the gods' vengeance: he fell in love with his own image in the waters of a spring and wasted away. The narcissus flower sprang up where he died.]

Although Elmer was then long gone, Grey Walter continued to use this more interesting description of self-recognition along with the below image, although it didn't and couldn't match with the sometimes erratic behaviour of the original tortoise, Elmer  and could no longer be reproduced with the newer models.

 W. Grey Walters Tortoises    Self recognition and Narcissism

In my opinion, in the cycloidal trace seen above, the 'bottom' of the cycloid appears flattened and bright spots at the start of the cycloid 'flats' appear. To me, this is indicative of 'bump' avoidance behaviour, not self-recognition.  When I visited the Bristol Robot Labs in 2009 to see the replica tortoises, the comment was passed to me that they were unable to satisfactorily reproduce the self-recognition behaviour as described by Grey Walter.


WGWTimep5 W. Grey Walters Tortoises    Self recognition and Narcissism

A relatively recent , clearer image of the so-called 'mirror dance' as released by Life Magazine.

A comment on Time-Lapse Photographs in General:
In interpreting all the time-lapse photographs, there are several aspects to keep in mind.
As already mentioned in pervious posts on the Tortoises, the cycloidal gait makes Elsie traverse to the right as her scanner turns in a counter-clockwise direction. Elmer, on the other hand, scans clockwise and because of the trailing action of the rear-wheels, will veer to the left. I must say, though, that the illustrations suggest that with no light source to track towards, Elmer tends to move in a forward direction and not sideways.
Most of the pictures show Elsie heading towards a light, either a candle or the hutch light, sometime a light out of sight near the camera.
Where you see two identical Elsies, it is actually the photographer’s technique of photographing Elsie at the start of the run, then  Elsie at the end of the run. There are not two separate Tortoises except where they look physically different i.e. Elmer has the ‘scaled’ Bakelite sheeting shell. The single trajectory is also an indicator of only a single Tortoise being traced.

Notice also that the flame of the target candle is placed at the same height as the PEC (the Photo-Electric Cell) in the scanning turret.