07 Currents_Robotics

Joel Hobbie, Untitled

Robotics: a broad art medium driven by robotic or automated technology. Pieces can respond to viewer input, be operated remotely, and often utilize sensors, computer programs, and other innovations.

Untitled, Joel Hobbie

There is something unsettling about tree limbs that bend and stretch, because they can seem like the reaching arms of desperate people. Trees transform this way during midnight rainstorms and, famously, in The Wizard of Oz (1939), when the all-too-human apple trees join forces to scare Dorothy. The lack of separation between humanity and a somewhat sinister version of nature goes a step further in Joel Hobbie’s robotic tree forms. Hobbie combines cast bronze tree roots with mechanical salvage from scientific labs in his untitled 2017 robotics piece, which interacts with viewers to determine their spatial coordinates via 3D cameras. The viewer and the robotic tree engage in unspoken communication that prods the viewer to consider a host of eerie possibilities, including surveillance, artificial intelligence, and our role as autonomous organisms in the environment. Hobbie, who lives in Santa Fe, conducts an artist talk at Peters Projects on Sunday, June 9, for his concurrent exhibition, Interstitial