Published: 11 Oct 2017
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City is a Canvas for Curious Minds

SKY Courier Mail Article about

The Clockwork Job Thief

by HANNAHPublished: 19 March 2019
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The Clockwork Job Thief

Ballerina Coppelia by Geoffrey

Nearby, a ballerina by artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman spins on its formed toes. Her elbow joints reveal silver mechanisms under her polished white skin. When her arms begin to move in and out of balletic port de bras, they do so as fluidly as “Spring” unfurls. As I watch, I see a hint of what’s to come:

robots mimicking, perhaps exceeding, the liquescent agility of a human dancer.

The ballerina is named “Coppelia One,” a nod to a ballet in which a female character impersonates a clockwork doll just after it

s reclusive maker, Doctor Coppelius, attempts to bring her to life with a magic spell. In the ballet, Swanilda (and the real dancer playing her) mimic the awkward, staccato movements of a windup toy.

Drake-Brockman’s complex kinetic sculptures, often equipped with motion-capture cameras (as seen in Shimon), display something called emergent behavior, self-generating motions that spring out of the machine’s own systems rather than out of human programming. As the complexity of a cybernetic system increases, so too does its capacity for emergent behavior. The AI robot is the fully automated automata, no hidden man working a chess panograph, no programmer choreographing each step.
In a TedX talk about his work, Drake-Brockman speaks of the idea of simulacra, copies coping copies: a dancer playing a woman that imitates a doll that imitates a real woman. Drake-Brockman says that in French theorist Jean Baudrillard’s thinking, the importance of the original diminishes with each copy. We humans—”automata models,” we might be called—are the original. “Coppelia One” may be the prototype of Dr. Coppelius’s creation truly come to life. And when she has fully realized her AI potential, she certainly won’t be confined to menial tasks and left-brain jobs.

Pixel Pond Helps Sick Kids Get Well
Published: 21 March 2018
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Pixel Pond Helps Sick Kids Get Well

Artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman created this interactive light pond for the Perth Childrens Hospital out of 2,080 pixel tubes. This artwork, called “Surface” is part of the “Healing Environment” of the hospital. Even a child in a wheelchair can interact with it!

“Surface” has sensors so when you move underneath it a “virtual stone” is thrown into its “virtual pond” – causing light ripples to spread out and combine. Sometime a virtual beachball is rolled in instead. This artwork gives kids a pond to throw stones into, right in the middle of the hospital!

“Surface” is also the largest interactive light matrix artwork in the world – at over 10 meters long by 4 meters wide, with over 16,000 pixels.

Surface by G Drake-Brockman Drake-Brockman

These cybernetic sculptures need human interaction to come alive.

by NIKOLAY NIKOLOVPublished: 21 June 2018
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These cybernetic sculptures need human interaction to come alive.

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman is an artist looking to the future when designing his artworks, each of which has a number of concentric shells that gives it a sense of personality.

Mashable re Geoffrey Drake-Brockman


by MEGAN REEDPublished: Fall 2018
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The power of simulation: seeing our humanity in a technological world

Art of the Times Article re Geoffrey

Man, Machine, Viewer, Object: The work of cybernetics artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman

by Published: 28 June 2017
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Man, Machine, Viewer, Object:
The work of cybernetics artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman

Artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman’s expertise and vast creativity belong to two niches that, when brought together, seem to manifest unlimited possibility. He combines the forces of computer programming and fine art, commenting on both the human condition and, more directly, viewer response, by exhibiting pieces that create an environment and experience in and of themselves. Although he once saw the fields of computation and art as completely divergent, he has since begun to recognize their ability to complement one another.

His first major piece was created in 2001, combining an artistic vision with computational realization, and was entitled Chromeskin(collab. R Kuhaupt). This piece – which was shown at the National Gallery of Australia – consisted of a chrome-plated sculpture of a human form, accompanied closely by an animated digital rendering of the same form. The relationship and tension created between these physical and cyber territories have informed much of Drake-Brockman’s work going forward, and can even be seen as an important stepping stone in the history of digital artwork.

While experimenting with several other light-, laser-, cyber-, and sculpture-based works, Drake-Brockman developed new artistic processes that paralleled the rapidly advancing technology available to him. Soon came Floribots, which debuted at the National Gallery of Australia in 2005. As he puts it, “Floribotsuses technology in a non-fetishistic way. It is colorful and emotionally active, though its computational capability is core to its expressive action.” This representation and utilization of technology was important to Drake-Brockman – he wasn’t interested in simply pushing technologies to their limits as a spectacle of human achievement, but rather using them in a sophisticated manner to demonstrate the humanistic relationships they have come to facilitate. The interactive installation showcases 128 robotic flowers working both individually and collectively, reacting to audience behavior and physical input, to explore the realities of societal living – blooming, wilting, and reblooming to simulate life’s endless narrative. It is just one example of Drake-Brockman’s interest in pushing boundaries as a multidisciplinary artist, exploring in detail everything from the materials he chooses to his selection of installation locations, which often go beyond the gallery and into the public domain.

As a longtime cybernetics artist, Drake-Brockman is strongly influenced by the theoretical basis of the art form, dating all the way back to its origins in the 1940s with mathematician Norbert Wiener, largely considered the pioneer of cybernetics. “He foresaw many of the modern applications of cybernetic technologies, even a possible end of human labor with the introduction of machine workers,” says Drake-Brockman. He goes on to explain how the progression of cybernetics came about in this modern age of technology:
Parallax Dancer by Drake-Brockman
“The explosion in the availability of cybernetic systems in our daily lives has come about through the ready availability of inexpensive digital devices. I'm interested in artistic interactions that are open-ended, and I need cybernetics for that. I avoid playback loops and the use of standard pallet-effects in my work, preferring to work with hand-coded software to define multiple levels of abstraction between an input stream and a set of outputs. These levels of abstraction act on one-another to create the results that the viewer experiences. The software - with the multiple feedbacks acting in parallel - along with the connected sensors and output devices, are the first level of cybernetics in my work. The second level of cybernetics I'm interested in spans the broader system, including human participants, who add more layers of abstraction and parallelism to the overall construct.”

In addition to cybernetics, Drake-Brockman also draws from “robot mythologies,” such as Pinocchioand Coppelia. His work capitalizes on the human/robot interactions—romantic or otherwise—that have been utilized throughout history, including Frankenstein, Pygmalion and the even the film Her.

Drake-Brockman’s thoughts on the future of technology-infused artwork are different from what you might expect. As he explains, technology has long been a medium of all forms of art:

“All art is technology. Even what we think of as traditional media – like bronze sculpture, printmaking, or film-based photography – use technologies that, at their time of introduction, were radical and civilization-changing. Artists will always use and adapt technologies of the day.  However, when an artist deploys a technology, they invert the regular idea of it having a ‘use’ or ‘function’ at the service of the prevailing social order, and instead, it becomes an agent that can actually act on the social order.”

At present, Drake-Brockman has three major pieces on exhibition at the Morris Museum in New Jersey. Each individual piece took years to create, collectively showcasing an ongoing cycle that began nearly twenty years ago. This exhibition is the single largest gathering of the artist’s major works in one show at one time. In addition to Floribots, there are two new figurative works in the show, both modeled on a real ballerina named Jayne Smeulders. One of these pieces is a full-sized, sculptural dancing robot titled Coppelia One; the other is an augmented reality installation titled Parallax Dancer.

Both interpretations of Smeulders, physical and virtual, are able to interact with their audience in unique ways. Drake-Brockman explains that Coppelia One is the first of a planned sequence of four identical Coppelia robots. This initial figure acts almost like a life-sized music-box ballerina, spinning around en pointe and responding according to the angle upon which audiences view her. This is made possible thanks to four motion detectors, allowing the robot to rotate towards her viewer and perform a dance. Parallax Dancer, on the other hand, utilizes six machine vision cameras, allowing a “parallax-corrected, life-size, 3D dancing animation” to be displayed on the cuboid of screens that make up the installation. The artist muses, “In a way they are twins. They are installed next to each other in the gallery, and the audience can move between them, comparing two very different technological approaches to essentially the same representational theme.”

For Drake-Brockman, this exhibition marks a milestone and has created a space for him to begin new long-term projects including some interactive public art commissions that are currently in the works. He recently presented a keynote artist talk during this year’s AutomataCon, and will have a booth at the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture taking place June 21-23 in New York City.

Eventually, Drake-Brockman plans to return to more human themes, including the one that started it all: Eve and the Apple. Until then, you can keep up with Drake-Brockman at

The Creator vs. The Created: Geoffrey Drake-Brockman

by LAURA SHIRKPublished: 25 April 2018
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The Creator vs. The Created: Geoffrey Drake-Brockman

Before finally combining his top two interests: art and programming, Geoffrey Drake-Brockman consciously separated one from the other. As different as black and white, he believed that they represented something opposite in life: aesthetics and shared experience vs. technical and singular. Over time, themes such as computation and simulation started to appear in his work and he broadened his way of thinking. The artist asked the question: what is it that makes an individual? With a background in computer science, he went on to become a cybernetics artist specializing in large-scale public installations. Bringing together art and technology, he creates work that initiates dialogue between viewer and object and interacts with the audience. By representing human emotions in a technological context, the Australian aims to connect with people across the globe.

Encouraged to interpret his body of work as a sequence (and not a series), Drake-Brockman’s creative process is based on concept. Connected by lasting threads and a trail of unanswered questions (to be picked up at a later date), his sequence is free of boundaries. Moving between the abstract and the figurative, the creative process remains the same. Following the concept: the step-by-step process of learning how to technically execute that concept. Coupled with conceptual thinking, he has a technical approach to color and color combination and orbits and trajectories. A reflective surface (more specifically, a mirror) is repeated as a motif throughout his work. He comments that in addition to enhancing the aesthetic of the installation, a mirror is used to show the reflection of the viewer backGeoffrey Drake_brockman
                  with Coppelia to its owner and trigger interactivity – even before switching on the technology.

As a third layer, the element of reflection leads to the artist’s fascination with robot mythologies: popular stories about “made-beings” (think Pinocchio or Frankenstein). “This inclusion is deliberate, as I see every created being as a kind of mirror. The implication is that the relationship between creator and created is ultimately reciprocal,” shares Drake-Brockman. A way to capture the attention of his audience and investigate the current cultural scene, the familiar story remains relevant to the digital age.

With an imaginative, innovative and a wide-ranging portfolio, it isn’t hard to believe that the artist has a “backlog of ideas” on hand to express himself. While he creates the conditions for interaction, he doesn’t believe that he has full control of audience engagement. He likes to stand back, watch, map patterns and think about the back and forth that organically unfolds between artwork and audience. Depending on the location of the exhibition, he is able to generate an increased level of engagement. For example, in comparison to a gallery space, a public space allows for maximum opportunity for engagement. Whether placed by the train station or on the beach, his life-sized installations draw attention from passers-by and enforce no traditional rules.

As part of its Curious Characters exhibition, Drake-Brockman is currently exhibiting three main interactive artworks at the Morris Museum (Morristown, NJ). On display: Floribots, Coppelia One and Parallax Dancer. As noted online: the three artworks embody quite different interactive modalities – a collective organism, a humanoid robot and an augmented reality installation, respectively. Linking the trio and fitting the automata theme of Curious Characters, each one responds to the audience and shares in the exchanges of the reciprocal relationship.

A plant-based, mechanical garden network, Floribotsis made up of 128 origami blooms with “hive mind” characteristics. It has already been awarded ‘best in show’ for Curious Creatures. First exhibited in 2005, Floribots revealed emergent behavior: a type of behavior that is not anticipated. While the installation expresses a number of overall states: bored (under-stimulated), in-between, erratic (over-excited) and asleep, each individual flower within the set experiences its own emotional states. “The more adept we become as creators, the more complex our creations – leading to greater emergent behavior with less predictability,” adds Drake-Brockman.

Described as “same expression, different domain,” Coppelia One and Parallax are both based on the same real-life prima ballerina (Jayne Smeulders, West Australian Ballet) and serve as a figurative representation of humanity. Positioned side-by-side in the exhibition, the “set of twins” face, address and dance together. Still in the works: The Coppelia Project, which is creating a small company of robot ballerinas (4) to learn and perform ballet dance movements. Inspired by the ballet “Coppelia” by Delibes, based on an earlier work by Hoffmann, Drake-Brockman shares that Curious Creatures symbolizes a milestone for the project. With three other half-completed ballerinas located in-studio, it’s the first time that Coppelia One has reached full expression. While the big-picture plan is to create a stage performance based on the project – for now, the artist is ready to fill a blank canvas

Kinetic art moves in exciting ways at the Morris Museum

Published: 16 March 2018

Kinetic art moves in exciting ways at the Morris Museum

NJTV Geoffrey Drake-Brockman

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman - Cybernetics Artist

by EMILY Published: 11 Oct 2017
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Geoffrey Drake-Brockman - Cybernetics Artist

E-Squared Article about Geoffrey

Mirror Beings - Robot Complexity, Myths, and Simulacra

by GEOFFREY DRAKE-BROCKMANPublished: 3 Oct 2017
Digimag Journasl

Mirror Beings - Robot Complexity, Myths, and Simulacra

Digimag Journal Paper by Geoffrey

Sky artworks all aflutter

by Published: 24 May 2017
West Australian

Sky artworks all aflutter

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman and SKYThe bendy inflatable tube men used for roadside advertising were one of the unlikely influences for the star attraction of this year’s City of Perth Winter Arts Season. Perth artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman’s large-scale installation, titled Sky, comprises 32 vertical fabric wind plumes that can rise up to 5m high. Installed in the heart of the City at Forrest Place, the interactive sculpture uses a similar technology to the inflatable men to evoke Perth’s big beautiful skies.

Pedestrians will be able to stimulate its sensors and set off the air-jets, creating waves of motion across the 20sqm matrix of fluttering blue and white plumes, which will also be illuminated at night.

“It took a lot to get the flutter right. I had to make about eight different prototypes and tried them with different motors and different lengths of fabric,” Drake-Brockman says.

Known for his large-scale public installations — which includes the robotic sculpture Totem at Perth Arena — cybernetics artist Drake-Brockman says Sky was also informed by his 2005 sculpture Floribots. Installed at the National Gallery of Australia in Melbourne and Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Floribots featured a matrix of 128 robotic flowerpots that grew and bloomed origami-like flowers in response to motion sensors.

When the City of Perth commissioned the public outdoor piece three months ago, Drake-Brockman wanted to go big, which is when he had the idea of using the technology behind the “corny yet oddly mesmerising” inflatable bendy men.

“I like to use something that’s familiar and then swing it somewhere slightly different,” Drake-Brockman says.
“The Floribots flowers were inspired by paper fortune tellers, and the blower tubes in Sky are a bit like the bendy men they have at car yards.”

The eight microwave sensors around the sculpture’s edge have a range of about 3.5m. When Sky senses people nearby, it will “dance” in response.

“If it sees you it will provoke a motion response causing new undulations and wave-patterns to propagate across the matrix ... with inspiration from the sky and the way the weather operates,” Drake-Brockman says.

“One thing I discovered with the Floribots artwork is that people would often walk up to it and get fascinated ... They’d freeze and just watch it.
“But the artwork can’t see you unless you move. Once you freeze you disappear from its view.
“I occasionally remind people if you want it to react to you — move.”

To launch Sky and the Winter Arts Season on June 2, choreographer Kynan Hughes has created a free one-off seven-minute performance called Winter Shadows in response to the sculpture. Dancers from Perth’s STRUT Dance will wear purple and silver to represent a winter storm blowing through the moving sculpture, which will be synchronised to the music. Sky is at Forrest Place from June 2-15. Winter Shadows takes place on June 2 at 7.15pm. The 13th annual Winter Arts Season takes place from June- August. See from June 2 for the full program.

Look Up To The Sky This Winter
by MISTY FARQUHARPublished: 2 June 2017
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Look Up To The Sky This Winter

Sky, an interactive instalment that uses lengths of fabric to respond to your movements, acts as the centrepiece for City of Perth’s Winter Art’s Season this year.

The piece features 32 blue and white fabric elements with individual air jets that launch into the air in mesmerising waves. Artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman joined ARTBEAT to talk about the piece.

Sky will be running in Forrest Place for two weeks,

Tags In This Story:  Artbeat, Forrest Place, Perth Winter Arts Season, Sky   

Taking Flight

by Published: June 2017
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Taking Flight

SKY on Opening Nighterth and winter aren’t two concepts that typically spark excitement when put together, but the City of Perth’s Winter Arts Season is rapidly changing my mind on that matter…

Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi has announced that the Season will incorporate a wide range of art experiences including theatre, music, film, public art, comedy, family, dance, cabaret, visual art, street art, literature and interactive events – so there’s a lot going on to bring Perth to life over the cooler months.

“There are more than 150 programmed art events from galleries, theatres and venues across the City and around 60 warming food and beverage offers from over 30 hospitality venues,” says Ms Scaffidi.

“Over the winter months Perth will come alive as people discover new experiences and spaces and come to appreciate the beauty and delight that art can bring.”

This remarkable concept kicked off on Friday with the official launch of the artwork 'Sky', by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman. 'Sky' is a temporary installation in Forrest Place that has been inspired by the stunning blue winter skies of Perth. The launch for this piece was breathtaking.

For the first eight minutes that 'Sky' was awoken, it was complemented by a choreographed dance that captivated the attention of the surrounding crowd. The installation was programmed to work in harmony with the contemporary dancers, gracefully flowing with the faux wind and simulating the movement of cloud and sky.

The performance was beautiful, however, this installation has much more to give. Post-dance the art piece is designed to interact playfully with people passing by and curiously looking in. Geoffrey intends for each person to have the power to control the wind, just like a magician who summons the forces of nature to bring about a storm. But ultimately, Geoffrey wishes to convey to nature of the sky; it’s dynamics, it’s patterns, and moods.

Art of the Future

Produced by Published: 3 November 2016
Great Big Story

Art of the Future: These Interactive Sculptures Respond to You

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman makes cybernetic sculptures that appear to come alive with human interaction. Using his background as a computer programmer, this Australian artist makes work that moves, twists and even changes colors in response to a viewer’s movement. For Brockman, it’s this conversation between his art and the audience that makes his work special and engaging in a whole new way.

Makers cut their cloth to fit

by Published: 13 July 2016
West Australian

Howe's Dream

Makers cut their cloth to fit

A strong line-up of local artists has explored the sewing machine as a device that works upon the imagination as much as it does upon social relations.


The needle and the story of its conception forms the basis of a kinetic work by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman. He has crafted a structure atop a sewing machine where pressing the foot drives six enlarged and flattened needles that pierce inwards towards a central point.

This work, called Howe’s Dream, is based on the story of American inventor Elias Howe. His invention of the sewing machine in 1845 is said to have been inspired by a dream about being attacked by cannibals rhythmically jabbing him with spears with holes in their heads. Drake- Brockman’s curious contraption efficiently abstracts this story in an aesthetically satisfying way.


Where art and robotics collide: Geoffrey Drake-Brockman
Interview with CLAIRE NICHOLS
Published: 14 May
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Where art and robotics collide: Geoffrey Drake-Brockman

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman with Luminous

Visual artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman explores the relationship between man and machine in much of his work.

His solar-powered spinning ballerina, Solar Jayne, pirouettes at the touch of a button. The giant yellow archway, Counter, literally counts viewers as they walk through the piece.

Drake-Brockman uses his expertise in computer science and visual art to create his unique interactive pieces, and says beneath the candy-bright colours, there's a touch of gothic horror about the works.

'Those wonderful stories of Frankenstein and Dracula, they inhabit my work at some level,' he says.

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman reflects on Looking Glass at Linton and Kay
Published: 6 May
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Geoffrey Drake-Brockman reflects on Looking Glass at Linton and Kay

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman with Luminous

MANY will be familiar with Geoffrey Drake-Brockman’s work without necessarily knowing his name.

Totem, or what has affectionately become known as ‘the pineapple’ to those visiting Perth Arena, is one of several public art commissions by the Perth artist. After spending his youth in Canberra, an 18-year-old Drake-Brockman embarked on an eight-month hitchhiking tour of Australia that finished when visiting family in WA and he decided to stay.

“I started studying at UWA, initially physics but that turned into a computer science degree,” he said.

“For a long time I made the deliberate decision not to use technology in my art; I resisted using it until years later when I went to art school at Curtin University and did a Masters in visual arts, where I studied art theory.

“It led me to think about how the concept of technology could be interesting in visual art and having engaged with the concept, the logical next step was to use it.”

Drake-Brockman,who has an industrial warehouse studio in Nedlands, said he then found himself in a catch 22 with his ambition to secure large public art commissions using robotic and optical technologies.

“You can’t get a public art commission until you’ve already done a public art commission, so that seemed like an impenetrable closed shop at first” he said.

“I was working with another artist called Richie Kuhaupt and we came up with a proposal for a commission initially where I grew up in Canberra.

“That was my first public art commission and once you have one, it’s easier to get another.”

Drake-Brockman has since created Totem, the ascending Spiral at WA Police Headquarters and interactive light sculpture Luminous at Chinatown in Northbridge, plus works for Sculpture by the Sea, including Solar Jayne, inspired by WA Ballet principal dancer Jayne Smeulders. His latest foray finds Drake-Brockman stepping back into a commercial gallery with exhibition Looking Glass, something he has not done in 19 years.

“Public art commissions have kept me busy and supplementing that was institutional exhibitions at PICA or the National Gallery of Australia,” he said.

“I just thought it would be nice to go back to an old idea I hadn’t tried for a long time.

“There are about 30 works with static sculptures, interactive installation and 12 new paintings that I’ve just completed in the last few weeks; it’s the first time I’ve made paintings in about 20 years.”

The paintings have a strong geometric theme incorporating mirrors, flat surfaces and colour, and have been described by Drake-Brockman’s partner and Brazilian singer-songwriter Juliana Areias as “multi- dimensional paintings”. Areias sang her original song Belas Artes, meaning ‘Fine Arts’ in Portuguese and composed about Drake-Brockman, during the exhibition’s opening this week at Linton and Kay Galleries Perth, Level 1/137 St Georges Terrace. Looking Glass exhibition is showing until May 22.

Photo - Artist Geoffrey
Drake-Brockman at Linton ans Kay gallery. Photographer: Andrew Ritchie

Through the looking glass
Published: 30 April 2016

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Through the looking glass

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman with Luminous

Few people in Perth will be ignorant of artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman’s imposing yet playful public art, kinetic or otherwise. One has only to think of Perth Arena’s yellow and purple Totem, lovingly dubbed Perth’s own “Pineapple”. Or his Solar Jayne, a life-sized robotic sculpture modelled after WA Ballet’s Jayne Smeulders and part of Cottesloe’s Sculpture by the Sea 2014.

But how many have seen Drake-Brockman’s futuristic, technology-driven work as a prime example of Shakespeare’s idea of art holding a mirror up to nature? Now, in his first commercial exhibition in over a decade, the man who initially studied computer science because he believed art couldn’t be taught (he soon saw the error of his ways and attended art school) presents Looking Glass, a major survey of Drake-Brockman’s work across multiple media including sculpture, painting and installation.

“Having a a gallery exhibition like this allows me to put the full continuum of my practice on show, and hopefully create some links that people can see between the public art and the studio art, Drake-Brockman says.

Among the works on display is a spectacular new series of circular, square and triangular Portals which incorporate mirrors while echoing the art of hard-edge abstraction. “A looking glass is an archaic name for a mirror,” Drake-Brockman says. “The ‘paintings’ are mirrors. Yes, art is automatically a mirror. But putting a real mirror in there forces the issue. It implicates the viewer directly and quotes them back to themselves, if you will.” Perfect for the age of the selfie, one might say.

The exhibition’s title also recalls Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking Glass. But the connotations are more complex than that. “Mirrors do lots of wonderful things,” Brockman says. “They can be portals to different realities, like the one Alice passes through. They can recall a futuristic super-technology world and the super-reflective chromium surfaces you always see in science-fiction movies.”

Technology, of course, is another main theme in Drake-Brockman’s work. “I’m intensley interested in technology and it’s always woven into my work, either literally in terms of electronics or conceptually in terms of the direction that the work suggests,” he says. Given the swift changes in science and technology over the decades Drake-Brockman has been making art, it seems natural to assume his work would have evolved with it. That, however, inverts the reality, much as a mirror can.

“The evolution of technology doesn’t necessarily change the conceptual space because that can be in advance of what’s currently technologically possible,” Drake Brockman explains. “Just think of science fiction authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, who predicted geostationary sattelites long before they became a reality. Certainly, advancing technologies are very noticeable when you’re going about implementing a particular technological trick. Things which were once difficult and expensive to achieve become cheap and easy. “But the conceptual range of possibilities doesn’t change.”

And what of the different possibilities afforded by public art? “All my works are thematically linked,” Drake-Brockman says. “What the public art does is provide an opportunity to realise those themes on a larger scale. It also provides a large audience.”

Different again is the kind of audience one gets by exhibiting in Sculpture by the Sea. “You put a sculpture in front of 100, 000 people, right in the middle of their domain: that’s non-public art with high visibility,” he says. “Basically, the more people interact with my work, the more value I get out of watching it and seeing the possibilities.”

Looking Glass runs at Linton & Kay Galleries, 137 St Georges Terrace, from Monday-May 22. 
Picture: Iain Gillespie

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman launches Chinatown’s new lights
22 September 2015
Perth Now Logo

Artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman launches Northbridge Chinatown’s new lights

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman with Luminous in

BLADE Runner — the 1982 science fiction film featuring Harrison Ford — is the inspiration behind Perth’s newest public art installation. Illuminated artwork by award-winning artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman lit up Northbridge’s Chinatown on Friday night. He is best known for his Totem artwork, nicknamed the Pineapple, outside Perth Arena and the Spiral outside the WA Police HQ in Northbridge.

The Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority and the City of Perth have worked together to give the Chinatown precinct a facelift. Named Luminous, the piece includes five, two-metre spherical lanterns mounted on six-metre tall poles. Mr Drake-Brockman described his creations as “complex, origami folded patterns” of orange, purple and red metals.

“My reference was the movie Blade Runner set in a futuristic Chinatown world, where there are these overhead advertising blimps inviting people to come live off-world,” he said. “So my overhead spheres are like invitations to come live on different planets.”

Each lantern has its own computer and four motion detectors, which respond to human movement in their immediate vicinity. “If a lot of people cross by it enters a more chaotic light pattern,” Mr Drake-Brockman said. “I’m very pleased with the finished outcome. It’s highly visible and for an artist that’s a great thing.”

Located on the doorstep of the Perth City Link project, the MRA expects thousands of people to pass through Chinatown’s Roe Street precinct each day.

Photo - Artist Geoffrey
Drake-Brockman in China Town Northbridge with his light sculptures. Photographer: Bohdan Warchomij

Interlace - The artist comments on his own work
27 August 2015
Community News Logo

The artist comments on his own work

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman with Interlace

AS this interactive water sculpture was taking shape in my studio, quite a few people would come in and remark upon it.

A friend of mine said that they (the sculpture’s fonts) looked like alien mushrooms. Somebody else said they looked like robot legs. Which disturbed me a little bit because if they’re the legs where is the robot? Also if they’re legs, they have very petite ankles and rather thick thighs.

Somebody else came in and said ‘is this made in China?’ And I said ‘no, it’s made in Western Australia’. And I think that points up one of the great aspects of a project like this where an organisation like Joondalup commissions a site-specific work to be made using local artists, subcontractors and so on.

We get something which is not only unique and conceived for us, for this location but where so much of the ideas, the process, the skills, the work stays here close to where it will be enjoyed. And I think that’s a wonderful thing.

I don’t call these elements robot legs or alien mushrooms, I call them fonts. The idea behind that word is that they are sources in some sense not necessarily of milk and honey but perhaps sources of experience or enjoyment for people who come to this place.

The blue colour is meant to be a quotation of our beautiful West Australian sky spiralling down to the ground so we can enjoy it. The mirrored surfaces are there to reflect the viewer back to themselves because this work is very much about involving participants in an interactive kind of exchange or composition.

The name of the work is Interlace. Thus it is very much about weaving and hopefully weaving participants into a composition of some kind.

The little wind sensor on one of the fonts will close down the art- work if there is any wind at all. Otherwise the water jets will blow off course.

When the work does start… it will become receptive to human motion. And you can see these black sensor boxes (above the fonts); they are mainly sensitive to movement on the outside periphery of the sequence of four fonts. So if you’re standing in the middle, it can’t see you.

Thank you very much to Joondalup and all its representatives for this opportunity.

Photo - Artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman stands amid his sculpture. Picture: Martin Kennealey.

Inspiration flows
13 August 2015
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Geoffrey Drake-Brockman with Interlace

Inspiration flows

A WATER sculpture is set to be unveiled in Joondalup’s Central Walk. Designed by artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman, Interlace consists of four polished 2.4 metre high stainless steel sculptural fonts.

Triggered by passing pedestrians, the interactive sculptures quietly propel jumping jets of water between the fonts without reaching the path or pedestrians below.

The sculpture, which will be located at the cross-section of Central Walk outside Joondalup Art Gallery, is part of the City of Joondalup’s public art program and will be programmed to operate between 7am and 11pm.

Drake-Brockman described Interlace as an artwork with a mind.

“It incorporates a computer running custom software and has four sensors to detect human presence,” he said.

“The computer controls when and how the laminar flow fountains operate and it has the aim of ‘weaving-in’ its audience into an interlaced composition. “

Joondalup Mayor Troy Pickard said the City hoped the work would reinvigorate Central Walk. A project to enhance the area has also included landscaping, signage, CCTV cameras, fairy lights, bins, seating, planter boxes and new lighting. Mr Pickard will unveil the sculpture at Central Walk on August 25.
Photo - Artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman in front of the as-yet-unfinished Interlace water sculpture. Picture: Yvonne Doherty.

Geoffrey DRAKE-BROCKMAN, Readwrite (2014)
Published: June 2015
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Geoffrey DRAKE-BROCKMAN, Readwrite (2014)

Readwrite at NEXTDC

Readwrite is a cosmic-ray activated robotic artwork by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman, located in Perth, Australia.

Readwrite is installed on the NEXTDC Data Centre in Malaga, Perth, Western Australia. It is 10m long and features a grid of 24 pneumatically-actuated 1.4m wide diamond-shaped flipping elements.

Dance sequences on Readwrite are triggered by charged "Muon" particles. Muons are terrestrial Cosmic Rays generated in the upper atmosphere by interactions with high-energy particles from distant supernovae and black holes in active galactic nuclei. Readwrite has four Muon detectors, mounted at its corners. When a Cosmic Ray hits a detector, a wave motion sequence begins from that point. Other choreographed behaviours occur depending on the frequency and spatial distribution of the Muon flux. Readwrite only reacts to the rarest incoming Muons - those that are travelling parallel to the Earth’s surface.

Readwrite was installed in January 2014 and has been in near-constant motion since. It may be the largest terrestrial automata activated by stimuli of extra-galactic origin.

The Readwrite control algorithm is a modified version of the code from Geoffrey Drake-Brockman’s earlier work Floribots, and thus retains elements of the emotional modes of that work (bored, excited, etc.) - which were originally modelled on the behaviour of the Artist’s sons at toddler age.

Readwrite is the latest in a series of robotic works by Drake-Brockman that explore the potential for emergence in relationships with machines. The Artist notes that his background in Computer Science informs his project to create automata, which he explains further in his 2013 TEDx talk, for details see


Geoffrey Drake-Brockman - human/robotic nature
Published: February 2015

GEOFFREY DRAKE-BROCKMAN - human/robotic nature

Floribots at PICA

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman’s art addresses the social impact of technology through geometric and color-based composition, as well as electronic interactive systems. He seeks to create autonomous works that support open-ended dialogues between viewer and art object. Socio-historically, he views himself as a technological determinist. He utilizes methods from computer science and designs his projects in terms of state mechanics, computability, and orders of complexity.

Q&A Interview:
JB [Julia Buntaine, Feature Member Editor @ASCI]:  Your work is characterized by the incorporation of robotic technologies to create interactive installations that deal with subjects such as nature, learning, behavior, and the body. When did you begin to pair robotics and these subjects, and why?

GDB: [Geoffrey Drake-Brockman, artist]:  I was exploring possibilities for working with 'chatterbox' origami forms back in 2000. I liked the chatterbox as it's a simple childish toy that anyone can make, but it has some quite complex geometry in terms of its range of spatial transitions, and carries interesting cultural overtones. For example, it can be used as a fortuneteller and I wanted to activate this culturally charged form with technology so it could interact with an exhibition audience. I had a clear notion that the artwork should 'reach out' to commun
icate with its audience in the 'real world', and robotics was a way to achieve this. I experimented with adding robotic activation to the chatterbox, and found myself drawn down a path that led to the creation of a work called Floribots.

The Coppelia ProjectJB: In your piece "Coppelia Project," you speak to both the limits of humanity and robotics by creating robotic dancers that imitate human dancers, based on the original "Coppelia" choreography of a dancer playing robot. Can you talk a bit about the interactive elements of this work, and reactions from your viewers?

GDB: The four Coppelia Project ballerina robots are designed to interact with each other, as well as with their human audience. The robots communicate with each other over a wireless network, and can share cybernetic ‘intentions’ that way. In contrast, their sensory connection with the human audience is more rudimentary.  Each robot has four infrared motion detectors that allows her to detect human activity levels, but any subtlety of the 'state' of the audience has to be inferred by her software. Interaction with humans is further complicated in this work because these robots are anthropomorphic, and are based on a body-mold of the wonderful ballet dancer Jayne Smeulders. The 'uncanny valley' is deliberately evoked, and people are attracted and repelled at the same time. In presenting this robotic piece alongside human ballet dancers, questions are raised in the mind of the audience, such as: are robots going to replace ballerinas? and can a robot ever be truly graceful?

JB: In Floribots you created an installation of robotic flowers, each imitating the cycle of life in growing and blooming. Acting as a unified field of flowers, the audience influences the 'hive mind' behavior which adapts itself over time. Having only given this installation simple programming capable of adaptive learning, what surprised you when it was finally up and running? Did it have any behaviors you didn't expect?

GDB: I was rushing to finish Floribots before the deadline for its first exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia. I only had a few days to finish writing the software at the end of the process, so it wasn't until the exhibition opened that I actually saw Floribots fully realized for the first time. The installation was a matrix of 128 robotic origami flowerpots with over 4,000 moving parts. The thing that struck me initially was the sound. When the robot flowers in Floribots transition from bud to bloom, they make a soft 'whoppp' sound, but when all of them are rhythmically opening and closing, the sound composition becomes surprisingly intense. As the exhibition progressed, what really caught my attention was a whole range of unanticipated artwork behaviors. Floribots was programmed to adapt its behavior over time, reacting to audience input in a limited number of ways. However, as the author of Floribots' software, I soon saw autonomous behaviors manifest that I could have sworn were not possible.  After a while, I came to regard these behaviors as 'emergent' - developing from potential that's inherent in the complexity of the artwork-audience interaction system itself.

Floribots installation by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman, 2005, origami, lacquered hardboard, robotics, 8m x 4m x 1.5m
The Coppelia Project by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman, 2015, robotics, dimensions variable
Totem by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman, 2012, aluminum, steel, robotics, laser projectors, 3m x 3m x 11m

Published: January 2015
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The Coppelia Project

The Coppelia Project is inspired by the story about a clockwork girl from the 1870 ballet ‘Coppelia’ by Saint-Léon, Nuitter, and Delibes, based on a story by Hoffmann. It also draws the commonplace metaphor of clockwork music boxes, with the little ballerinas that pop up and rotate in front of a mirror when you open the lid. Coppelia is part of the traditional classical ballet repertoire and is performed frequently by ballet companies around the world. It belongs to a small group of enduring stories in Western Culture that directly address the limits of humanity when confronted by our creations. The Coppelia story is unusual in approaching this theme through love and attraction, rather than horror and revulsion, as emphasised by Mary Shelly in ‘Frankenstein’. The Coppelia story deals with some of the issues at the edge of humanity; machines interchangeable with persons, love and attraction confused at this boundary.

The Coppelia Project has been assisted by the Australia Council for the Arts, Arts WA, The West Australian Ballet, and the many generous contributors to its Idiegogo crowd-funding campaign. See the Sponsors page for details.

The artist says; ‘I have always been intrigued when watching Coppelia being performed by a ballet company – one always sees the most beautiful and graceful ballerina “hamming it up” to move like a clunky robot girl. I decided to add another layer of irony to the situation my making a robot to imitate the dancer who is imitating the robot… Of course, robots are manufactured goods, not people, so I had to make four. From the images below, you may note an overtone of Fritz Lang’s 1927 film masterpiece “Metropolis” and its heroine “Maria”. I am interested in such stories about robots and automata that crossover into the human realm. The Coppelia Project is about the boundary conditions of humanity as it confronts is technological alter ego. The robots are robotic “blanks” that are energised by their programming to mimic the elegant movements of human dancers, but are imperfect in their attempts at human grace.’

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman’s goal is to create automata – interactive, self-determined, expressive machines – that once set free, operate to independently explore issues at the edge of humanity; machines interchangeable with persons, aspects of political accountability, love, and attraction in flux at this boundary. Through his practice Geoffrey combines his interest in gothic horror themes, especially Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein story, with the politics of social determination through technology, and commonplace, accessible metaphors such as clockwork music boxes, flower-pots, doorways, simple origami shapes, and portrait relief.

The Coppelia Project robots are specially designed to learn and perform the movements of classical ballet. They can spin “en pointe”, move their waists, arms and head. They cannot walk and their hands do not have grippers to pick things up. They are optimised only as ballerina robots. The Coppelia Project robots are taught ballet movements by having their arms, head, and torso physically moved through a ballet sequence by our ballerina trainer. An on-board computer captures the motion so it can replay it later – in various dance move combinations.

The Creation of the Coppelia Robots is the cumulation of an extensive research and development exercise undertaken with the assistance of Jayne Smeulders of the West Australian Ballet. Jayne was the model for the robots and assisted the artist while researching the requirements for ballerina form and movement.

The Coppelia Project is the ultimate outcome of a series of increasingly complex robotics projects, including “Floribots” (2005) “Headspace” (2010) and “Totem” (2012). Two other ballerina related projects have also taken place alongside the Coppelia Project, one is “Parallax Dancer” – a 3D virtual dance installation, and the other is “Cockwork Jayne” – a simple windup version of the ballerina robot. More detail on these projects is available at the artists main web site.

Record-breaking numbers and heights at Sculpture by the Sea
Published: 24 October 2014

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SMH Image of Counter with

Record-breaking numbers and heights at Sculpture by the Sea

As the 2014 Sculpture by the Sea exhibition celebrates the 1000th artist to have featured in the event, one exhibiting artist is hoping to set a record of his own. He just needs the help of exhibition goers to pass through the arch of his artwork 999,999,999 times.
Geoffrey Drake-Brockman's Counter does exactly what it says on the box. Each time someone walks through its infrared beam, the solar-powered counter goes up by one. Now showing for the fourth time in its fourth location across the world, he is hoping to well and truly pass the record of 288,601 in Aarhus, Denmark, to one less than a billion, whereupon it will tick back to zero.
"The positive is to participate in the social order, to stand up and be counted, to make your life count. The negative is just to be reduced by a machine to a number in the database. People can make the choice to be counted or not." Counter is just one of 109 sculptures from 16 countries now perched along the coast from Tamarama to Bondi for the 18th annual Sculpture by the Sea.

Image: Geoffrey Drake-Brockman: one in 999,999,999. Photo: by Steven Siewert

Sculpture by the sea 2014
Published: 23 October 2014

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Over 100 sculptures transform the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk into a temporary sculpture park. Sculpture by the Sea is one of Sydney's key annual arts events, drawing around 500,000 to the coastal walk from Bondi to Tamarama to enjoy site-specific sculptures by top artists and emerging talents from Australia and abroad. This year's exhibition features over 100 works, 37 of them by first-time exhibitors.
Geoffrey and Counter

WA screen awards see new vision
Published: 10
July 2014

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WA screen awards see new vision

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman
                  and WA Screen Awards StatuetteA crucial part of the classing up of the WA Screen Awards - glamorous new venue (the State Theatre Centre), high-profile host (Claire Hooper) - is a new statuette for the winners designed by one of the State's leading sculptors, Geoffrey Drake-Brockman.

Drake-Brockman says his design is based on the process of vision, which is appropriate for an award acknowledging achievement in the screen industries.

"In vision you always have light passing through a lens. The light is then focused on to a surface which could be the retina of the eye or the photo receptor in the camera. The process is the same," Drake-Brockman explains.

"The other reference to vision is that the three colours used in this statuette - red, green and blue - are the optical primary colours. These are the colours that all colours are broken down into for photographic and video recording."

The techno bent of Drake-Brockman's WASA statue is nothing new for the Dalkeith-based artist who is best known for incorporating robotics into large-scale public artworks. His most-famous piece is the 10.5m pineapple-like installation outside Perth Arena whose 108 aluminium panels open and close like petals in response to people walking past.

While he is working on a considerable smaller scale with the WASA statuettes, Drake-Brockman says he was afforded the same freedom to create as he generally enjoys with his other commissions.

What makes the project unusual for the sculptor is that he has not just designed the WASA prize but is manufacturing 30 statuettes for the various categories. "My son has been helping me make the statuettes. I think he will be anxious to get back to school," Drake-Brockman laughs.

Miranda Edmonds, co-director of the short Tango Underpants, and Sean Tinnion, who is nominated twice in the best original music (short form) category, are among the WA filmmakers who will be hoping to walk away with one of the Drake-Brockman statuettes.

This year the Film and Television Institute, which runs the WA Screen Awards, received an impressive 448 entries from 172 entrants across 143 screen projects. This year's most heavily nominated film is Antony Webb's The Fan. Other films with multiple nominations include Roderick Mackay's Factory 293, the Sam Worthington surf movie Drift and horror flick Sororal.

Butler station work running to schedule

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman at Butler Train

Published: 25 March 2014

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Butler station work running to schedule

IT may look finished, but there are still several months of work to be done before the first passengers board a train at Butler. Public Transport Authority spokesman David Hynes said the $240 million extension was on schedule to open to passengers by the end of this year.


Mr Hynes said all carparks and the station’s bus interchange had been completed and landscaped, and they had installed a public artwork titled Rain on Water, designed to mimic the effect of raindrops falling on a still water surface. Artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman, who specialises in optical illusions and robotics, designed the colourful 38m-long aluminium and acrylic work, which spans the width of the station.

Artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman with Rain on Water at Butler railway station. The artist also created the Totem robotic artwork outside Perth Arena (nicknamed The Pineapple) and Spiral for the WA Police headquarters.

Solar Jayne by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman at Sculpture by the Sea at Cottesloe Beach
Published: 11 March 2014

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Solar Jayne by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman at Sculpture by the Sea at Cottesloe Beach, 7 March 2014. Solar Jayne by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman is a solar powered kinetic sculpture, the figure is based on a body mould of Jayne Smeaulders, principal dancer at the West Australian Ballet.

Solar Jane by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman

Geoffrey DRAKE-BROCKMAN, Totem. Perth (Australia)
Published: November 2013

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Totem by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman
Totem is a permanent interactive robotic installation by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman, located in Perth, Western Australia.

At 11-metres tall, with 108 reconfigurable petals and three laser projectors, Totem is one of the world’s largest and most complex interactive artworks. The work responds to pedestrian movements and is sensitive to environmental conditions.

Totem was commissioned in November 2012 by the Government of Western Australia for the pedestrian plaza a
djacent to the Perth Arena entertainment stadium.

The work incorporates a laser projection artwork titled "Translight" that creates nightly a variable “geometric narrative” light composition on the Eastern wall of the Arena. The kinetic responses of Totem vary depending on pedestrian activity-levels, as sensed via its six microwave motion detectors. The work can assume regular, symmetric configurations as well as entering chaotic transitional states.

Totem has been nicknamed "The Pineapple" by the people of Perth. It is the latest in a series of robotic artworks by Drake-Brockman that explore the potential for emergence in relationships between machines and people.The Artist notes that his background in Computer Science informs his project to create automata, which he explains further at his recent TEDx talk, for details see:

Published: 8 may 2013

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X-Press Magazine Article re Coppelia Project

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman RTR FM

The Coppelia Project
Published: 2 May 2013

The Coppelia Project

Mechanical magician Geoffrey Drake-Brockman was with Andy Snelling on Morning Magazine. The artist behind Perth Arena’s robotic ‘pineapple’ will unveil his latest six-year mechanical endeavour tomorrow. Entitled the ‘Coppelia Project’, its Geoffrey Drake-Brockman latest artistic extravaganza – again with a mechanical feel – but one with a sense of dance. It’s modelled on Principal Dancer of the West Australian Ballet, Jayne Smeulders. But how so?

RTR Salon Link

Coppelia Salon
Published: 11 May 2013

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Coppelia Salon

Coppelia Salon Social Pages

Mechanical dancer a life work
Published: 19 April 2013

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Mechanical dancer a life workJayne Smeulders
                and Geoffrey Drake-Brockman

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman, the Perth artist behind the robotic "pineapple" sculpture outside Perth Arena, is close to completing another grand obsession - a robot ballerina. Modelled and programmed on the body and moves of WA Ballet principal artist Jayne Smeulders, the robot is the first of what Drake-Brockman intends to be a troupe of four cyber dancers.

The Coppelia Project is inspired by the 1870 ballet Coppelia about a clockwork girl and is one of his art projects looking at how humans interact with machines. The four ballerinas will have a robotic skeleton inside a fibreglass shell that allows them to dance en pointe. Drake-Brockman said the robots were spooky and beautiful, like big ballerina music boxes.

"I want to create the tension between the familiar and attractive and the disquieting, other reality of cyborgs and created beings," he said.

"By dealing with robots at an artistic level, we can better work out how we feel about them." The first robot will give a dance at the artist's Nedlands studio as part of a 19th-century Paris-themed salon evening on May 10.

Drake-Brockman began the project seven years ago. He is using the crowdfunding site to raise nearly $33,000 to complete the ballerinas next year for an exhibition and a ballet for human and robot dancers. Drake-Brockman's work includes Floribots, a collection of 128 motion-sensing robotic potted flowers and a yellow walk-through "people counter" at Sculpture by the Sea in 2011.

Created Beings
Published: December 2012

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Geoffrey Drake-Brockman - Created Beings
TEDx Perth December 2012, Talk length: 14:53

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman - Robot Maker

Geoffrey talks about the intersection of art, science and mathematics, and the role of these in his robotic works... as well as the fascinating canvas that they provide for how we engage in public art.

Geoffrey is a Perth-based artist specialising in robotics, lasers, and optical interactive installations. Geoffrey studied Computer Science at The University of Western Australia before completing a master’s degree in Visual Arts at Curtin University. He has been exhibiting since 1986 with shows in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Singapore, New York and London. His most recent solo exhibition was in 2010, when he installed his robotic work Floribots at the Singapore Art Museum.

Geoffrey has also shown work at the National Gallery of Australia and participated in the Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award, The Biennale of Electronic Arts Perth and Sculpture by the Sea – in Bondi, Cottesloe, and Aarhus, Denmark. Geoffrey has completed a number of public art commissions including the laser-based work Transfiction (Canberra) and the robotic sculpture Totem at the new Perth Arena.

Geoffrey TEDx Image


Totem Tribute to Robotics
Published: 5 November 2012

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Totem Tribute to Robotics

The Perth Pineapple, Corn Cob or Banksia Cone, call it what you like, Geoffrey Drake-Brockman’s Totem draws on sophisticated robotics and schoolyard origami to make a memorable piece of public art.

Totem with Geoffrey Drake-Brockman

 “I think that it is great that it has its own nickname,” Drake-Brockman says of his 10.5m installation outside the Perth Arena which is already engaged in a Twitter duel with the green James Angus sculpture in Forrest Place dubbed the Perth Cactus. “As an artist, you want your work to enter the public consciousness.”

Six years in the making, Totem is a dramatic monument of 108 yellow-and-purple aluminium triangles. A towering high-tech version of the playground paper-craft game chatterbox, its moving panels are programmed to open and close like flower petals in response to people walking past.

Operating to a complex computer program, Totem had a mind of its own and the “petals” could form hundreds of thousands of unpredictable configurations, Drake-Brockman said. “Once the algorithms have been written, it is set free and then it responds to its own environment,” he said. “It has its own sensors and is able to tell what is going on around it and then it does what it wants to do.”

To cap it off, Totem also shoots geometric laser projections onto the wall of the Arena at night.

The Dalkeith artist has used the chatterbox idea in a previous artwork called Floribots, a collection of 128 potted, robotic flowers equipped with motion sensors.

Born in the 1960s rocket research hub of Woomera, Drake-Brockman has fused the exploratory wonderment of science and art since abandoning a full-time career as an IT professional in the 1990s.

 “I always thought science and art were endeavours which were self-justifying; they didn’t need to be justified in terms of anything else or any particular benefits they would bring. I thought they were sources of beauty and absolute knowledge, I guess.”

His artworks include several laser installations, the Coppelia Project series of robotic ballerinas modelled on WA Ballet star Jayne Smeulders, and a big yellow walk-through counting machine at Sculpture by the Sea in 2010.

Though high in technology (a bank of computers sit in its “head”), Totem required relatively low maintenance and ought to be resistant to “excessively vigorous interaction with the public”, Drake-Brockman said.

 “The way it develops will be influenced by the people who engage with it if it is to act as a totem, as a marker of a spot, an attractor of people. If people say, ‘Let’s meet at the Totem or the Big Pineapple’, I don’t mind. “The idea of a totem is somehow to reflect to a society something of itself back.

 “That is my ambition for it - we will see how it works out.”

Totem at the Perth ArenaTHE SUNDAY TIMES
Perth Arena 'Totem' attracts attention
Published: December 2012

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A 10-METRE high yellow "Totem" artwork is being constructed near the entrance of the new Perth Arena.

The wacky geometric artwork will be the jewel in the crown at the new entertainment venue, which is due to open on November 10. Once completed, the robotic sculpture by Perth-born artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman will stand 10.5m high and 3.5m in diameter, with some 108 moving elements that will move when pedestrians walk past.

By night, the work will project laser beams on to the side of the arena, visible from several parts of the city. The work, titled "Totem" will be officially completed in time for the opening of the arena. ATTENTION SEEKER: 'Totem', a new sculpture created for the almost-complete Perth Arena.

BEHIND BALLET - Blog of the Australian Ballet
Robot ballerinas
Published: 13 March 2012

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Robot ballerinas

Jayne Smeulders the Coppelia Project

Newsflash! You can now help Geoffrey complete the robot ballerinas! He’s crowd-sourcing the completion of the Coppélia Project. More details here.

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman’s The Coppélia Project is a modern artistic exploration of the 1868 ballet Coppélia by Delibes. Drake-Brockman is a Perth-based artist who specialises in robotics, lasers and optical interactive installations. He has been exhibiting his work since 1986, with numerous shows in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Singapore, New York and London. An important aspect of his work is his investigation of the relationship between technology and humanity. The Coppélia Project is perhaps one of the most fascinating examinations of this theme.

The project not only reworks the well-known Coppélia ballet, but also draws on clockwork music boxes – the kind with a pop-up ballerina who rotates in front of a mirror when the lid is opened. For anyone who’s ever owned a pop-up ballerina jewellery box, it’s hard not approach this project with a child-like enthusiasm, as the idea of a life-size version seems too alluring for words.

The Coppélia Project began in 2006 as a collaboration with The West Australian Ballet’s Executive Administrator, Jennifer Piper, then-Associate Artistic Director Catherine Goss, and the then-Artistic Director, Simon Dow. More recently, the project was featured at The University of Western Australia as part of the Symbiotica Biological Arts seminar series. Two dancers from the West Australian Ballet, Jayne Cooper-Smeulders and Penelope Bishop, have been integral to the development of this project. Jayne became the model for the Coppélia robot, and Penelope helped to create a body cast of Jayne. The project still remains a work in progress, with the assistance of the Australia Council for the Arts, Arts WA, and PICA.

Drake-Brockman describes how this project deals with “multi-order ‘simulacra’, in terms of the concepts developed by Jean Baudrillard. Specifically, I am making multiple Coppélia Project robots that are simulations of a real human dancer (Jayne) who is in turn in the role of Coppélia – that is, pretending to be a clockwork girl. In the ballet story itself, a real girl in turn pretends to be the clockwork Coppélia. The first, real, and original ‘Coppélia’ of course never existed at all.” This constant interplay between reality and artifice creates a multi-layered artwork that relies on the dancer’s ability to articulate both humanity and artificiality. As such, Drake-Brockman is literalising the original ballet’s major theme of what constitutes humanity in the face of technology and artificial machines.

Coppélia has always been an enormously popular ballet; it has been performed numerous times by The Australian Ballet. Drake-Brockman notes that at the heart of The Coppélia Project is the irony of watching a trained and graceful ballerina enact the awkward and robotic movements of an artificial machine that “apes” humanity. His project highlights the way ballet draws attention to our physicality as a symbol of our humanity, and the types of anxieties about our “authenticity” and individuality which are played out on this body. Comparable to films such as Blade Runner (1982) and The Matrix (1999), The Coppélia Project enters the iconic Coppélia ballet into a sci-fi realm of modern technology that will only become more thought-provoking as the project develops.


Geoffrey and Coppelia Robot

Robots set to Transform Ballet - Beauty with a helping of horror
Published: 7 May 2013

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Beauty with a helping of horror

LIKE a mad scientist concocting a potion with equal spoonfuls of splendour and horror, artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman has been crazily busy at work in his Nedlands Perth laboratory, or rather, studio. Now, after seven long years, he is ready to unveil his masterpiece: an exquisitely unsettling robot ballerina that dances en pointe.

“She is beautiful but the robotic appropriation of the human body is disturbing. To balance on the cusp of those two themes is what I am after,” Drake-Brockman revealed.

“The aim is to engage with an audience by intriguing them and making them look a little longer. As an artist, you always want your work to endure, not just be dismissed in a moment, and I’m hoping there’s enough here in my robot to keep people interested for some time.”

The startling work, or doll, as Drake-Brockman calls it, was inspired by the clockwork girl from the 1868 Coppelia ballet by Delibes.

“She is a real human ballerina, obviously highly trained and very graceful, and she tries to act in a robotic way, jerkily moving her limbs. “I always found that extraordinary because as far as I know it’s the only moment in classical ballet where the dancer deliberately tries to lack grace, so it stuck in my mind. “I thought I could invert that idea by making a robot that is pretending to be a ballerina.”

The Dalkeith homegrown visionary, also responsible for the ‘pineapple’ totem outside Perth Arena, had some valuable help with his ambitious design. 

“Fortunately, West Australian Ballet was very cooperative and by extraordinary coincidence happened to be producing a version of Coppelia at that very time,” he revealed. “I was able to employ dancer Jayne Smeulders to assist me as my model. I took photographs of her in various positions so I could understand the movement requirements for the robot and she posed for a body mould standing en pointe continuously for two-and-a-half hours. “Even though she is a fabulous athlete and has been a ballerina since she could walk, this took her to the edge of her endurance. “Jayne will be at the launch so everyone can see the flesh and blood original side by side with the robotic version.”

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman with the first Coppelia robotic ballerina. Photographer: Andrew Ritchie

Sculpture by the sea - Toso
Published: 5 March 2011

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Sculpture by the sea - Torso

In Torso, Richie Kuhaupt and Geoffrey Drake-Brockman blend ancient and modern with a marble torso and polished stainless-steel extremities.

Torso at Cottesloe

Artist's not to past is out of this world
Published: 22 February 2011

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Western Suburbs Article re Torso

Headspace by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman
Published: 14 January 2011

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Headspace by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman

Headspace is an interactive robotic artwork, created by  Geoffrey Drake-Brockman, with 256 independently moving rods in a matrix some 1.5m by 1.5m. The control system is loaded with 3D scans of 700 school students. Headspace is a variable relief sculpture. Located at Christ Church Grammar School Perth, Western Australia.

Headspace Centenary Art Project
Published:  2011

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Headspace Centenary Art Project

Headspace was a unique art project involving approximately 700 students at Christ Church Grammar School who literally ‘put their faces’ to high-tech artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman’s sculpture. The project was a centenary gift to the school from its Parents’ Association and was officially launched at the 2010 Nexus Senior School Art Exhibition.

Now permanently installed at Christ Church Grammar School, Headspace is an interactive kinetic sculpture with four motion detectors able to sense human presence. A matrix of 256 motorised rods, which can extrude up to 400mm, create three-dimensional displays of the boys’ faces. The rod matrix is able to morph between these face-like forms and perform geometric transitions that at times appear to show the boys’ faces moving between emotional states.

Flower Power
Published: 12 May 2010

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Straights Times Floribots Article

Music Boxes Strike a New Note
Published: 31 July 2009

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West Australian Newspaper Clockwork Jayne

Music box theme strikes a chord
Published: 28 July 2009

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Western Suburbs Clockwork Jayne

Counter on Murray Street by Geoffrey

Number is up
Published: 28 July 2009

Guardian Express Masthead

Number is up

THE popular city art installation, Counter, has been removed after its one-month run in the Murray Street Mall, but not before ticking over to a grand total of 173,754.

The work, created by artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman, was inspired by the penguin counters on Victoria’s Phillip Island and the idea that everyone counts.

Starting from zero, the number clicked up each time someone walked through or even waved a hand through the sensor.

“Each person has the choice to decide whether to be counted or not, or how many times,” Drake-Brockman said of the work.


Lisa Scaffidi and Geoffrey Drake-Brockman
                  with Counter

Artist counts on bright idea
23 June 2009

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Artist counts on bright idea

For the next month, Perth residents are being asked to stand up and be counted in a new interactive temporary art installation in the heart of the city. Counter, on the corner of the Murray Street Mall and William Street, is the creation of renowned WA artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman.

Drake-Brockman's piece was inspired by the penguin colony on Victoria's Phillip Island and aims to challenge the public's ideas of how we operate as individuals and as a society. "I saw the little penguins coming on from the sea and filing dutifully past a machine that counted them and I thought just as little penguins move about their business, so do human beings," he said.

"I hope to get a range of responses.

"There's the notion of surveillance, there's a slightly Orwellian overtone to the piece and that's a dark note and then there are other tones of perhaps standing out and declaring that you count in some way.

"It's a great way of having an exhibition where you don't need to drag people into the gallery. The gallery comes to them."

The work is part of the City of Perth's Urban Art program that funds innovative public artworks.

The first person to be counted, Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi, said that while the Counter looked like a fun installation that counted traffic flow, "more importantly, our brief interaction with the artwork leaves us questioning how we, as individuals, will make a difference in life and not fade into the crowd".


Sculpted: conscience and consciousness
Published: issue #70 Dec-Jan 2005 pg. 49

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Realtime Floribots
                  Drake-BrockmanSculpted: conscience and consciousness : 
Zsuzsanna Soboslay on the National Sculpture Prize

Everyone has their favourites: the garden of programmed robotic flowers that rise, unfold, snap shut, fall again, lines rippling like wheat in wind. The Porsche-like, white, seamlessly cast manta ray. Starfish pinned together into fishing-nets that hang like an island welcome over the entranceway. Forms that are organic, computer-generated, classically-referenced, or based on negative space; thrown into corners, clutching walls, caught in crystal, precarious on floors. An arc of Buddhas chant; another is sculpted out of Easter egg foil. There are boxes of memories and mementoes; paper folded into sea-sponge cells; dress-shoes and a hand-bag cast in lead, coffin-prints, lost accessories. How strange, amongst several fetishistic collections of objects, the thin earth-to-sky abstraction of the Yolngu burial pole. And the winning work, American crater near Hanoi, #2: a negative space marking out the zone of damage. Surrounded by an origami of Viet and American currencies, folded into shirts, all tied (as the people were) floor to ceiling with string.

Ahh, sculpture competitions: much better represented now in Australia than they used to be. By the sea (Sydney), in the park (Werribee), or as here, held within walls. Much more space than before; this, the third Gallery event, seems to have gained kudos, been allowed more space, attracted higher calibre submissions. Newcomers beside old hands. Fewer mistakes.

The first mistake: squashing them in. In the first two National Sculpture Prize exhibitions (2001 and 2003), I actually missed site-specificity: pined for installations in grasses and on plains, Richard Long-type spirals of stone and sand. This time, I’m really glad I’m in this building here. The placing of works is really right: the art is given space. Sculpture is BIG, even when small. Even hanging on a wall, sculpture works out into space, asking questions wider than its dimensions.

The second: I’m not sure it’s a mistake as such, but the previous 2 exhibitions had phenomenal prize-winners, and a lot of work that was very thin. Technique in this year’s entries is incredibly strong: from the very senior Bert Flugelman’s understanding of the effect of light on polished and ground steel, to Drake-Brockman’s programming of motions and rhythms between elements across a large field, to the various manipulations of plastics, tape and paper, foams and foil, optics and animation. These pieces are allowed their worlds. I deeply understand Flugelman’s phrase on the way art reflects “what one might euphemistically call the ‘real world’.” Art also lives; it is. Even reflections on death (Glen Clarke’s Hanoi; Mel Coates’s underwater video of a drowning parachutist) create a space that lives.

Sculpture, more than painting, dissects dimensions in space, and in that dissection time separates: whose is this body Charles Robb reveals, the classic portrait ‘bust’ against the wall, popping a substance through its orifices, a second revealing its insides (heart and lungs)? The best works dissect the forms we think we move with and through in the world.

Alisdair Macintyre draws together hundreds of works of art and art sites he would like to have visited from several continents, miniaturised into one “theme park” which holds them all. As with the dance of the mechanoid Floribots, and Ian Howard’s enormous scrap-yard of life experiences, adults and children alike are held in thrall.

Works in this exhibition spiral, hide, hollow, store, map and conceal. They spread, climb, hover, fold into myriad cells. They engage in damage (what remains after war, or the sufferings of the ecosystem), and hope (what of both art and life survive). It is little surprise Glen Clarke’s Hanoi #2 wins the prize, as it engages in nearly all of these. There is a conscience and a consciousness in these works. The exhibition has a brightness I haven’t seen in years.

National Sculpture Prize and Exhibition, 2005, National Gallery of Australia.

A dip into illusion
10 February 2007

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Ric Spencer Review Floribots Drake-Brockman

National Sculpture Prize and Exhibition 2005
Published: Vol 25 no 4, 2005

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National Sculpture Prize and Exhibition 2005

The viewer is initially greeted by works in the open foyer area where the People's Choice Award winner Floribots by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman swept an outrageous sea of colour, movement and clacking sounds in the shape of a large grid of animated flower pots, each with extending and retracting stalks of folded paper flowers breathing in a rhythmic yet urgent celebratory wave. Although this work offered its own cliches with its DIY Hardware House aesthetic and primary IKEA style colours, it introduced a playful air to the proceedings through its youthful optimism. The foyer also housed Wall Zipper by Simeon Nelson and Built for comfort by Christopher Langton who, along with Bert Flugelman's Caryatid minataur, all appeared to draw on childhood fantasies and inventions embodied within their reflective magical materials of brushed stainless steel, polyurethane and pigment on PVC and beeswax.

Floribots wins people’s choice
Published: Issue 185, November 2005

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Floribots wins people’s choice

Perth-based artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman’s work Floribots has won the Macquarie Bank People’s Choice Award for the National Sculpture Prize and Exhibition 2005. Floribots was made up of 128 computer-controlled robot origami flowers arranged in a 35 m2 grid that snapped open and shut in response to movement sensors and was both mesmerising and playful.

See sculpture by the sea
Published: October 2005

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Floribots and Laser Beams - the art of Geoffrey Drake-Brockman
Published: Issue 105, November 2005

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Floribots and Laser Beams - the art of Geoffrey Drake-Brockman

Art Chronile Page 1
Art Chronicle Page 2

Published: Summer 2005

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Society Magazine Floribots

Winning Sculpture a Fresh Take on Flower Power
Published: 28 September 2005

Canberra Times Masthead

Winning Sculpture a Fresh Take on Flower Power

Floribots Canberra Times Article

A maze of shapes
Published: 15 July 2005

Canberra Times Masthead
Canberra Times Floribots National Sculpture Prize

Published: 17 March 2005

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Anenome Post Newspaper

Laser Treatment
Published: Volume 6(3) 2004 - Issue 103

Landscape Journal Article about Laserwrap by

Using Illumination to Truly See
Published: 28 December

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ART REVIEW; Using Illumination to Truly See

ALTHOUGH mostly in the dark, ''The Luminous Image VI'' at Collaborative Concepts here is all about light. Organized by Franc Palaia, the exhibition brings together two dozen national and international artists making photo-based artwork in which illumination is an integral element. Contributions range from light boxes and video projections to illuminated photo sculpture and window transparencies.Essentialiser at Collaborative Concepts, NY

''The Luminous Image VI'' is the sixth in a series of exhibitions of art using light organized by Mr. Palaia since 1996. (Bar one, in Italy, all these exhibitions were in galleries and museums in the United States.) This is by far the largest installment in the series, and with so many stylish inclusions I'm guessing it's among the best.

So what have we got? First up, this is the kind of exhibition that encourages thoughtfulness. That means you've got to work a bit, to spend time with the artworks to understand what's going on. If that seems like an imposition, and it is, sort of, then rest assured that most pieces repay patient viewing. Some you'll even want to see again.

Nina Katchadourian's video ''Endurance'' (2002) is thoroughly captivating. It consists of an enlarged close-up of the artist's open mouth, with one of her central teeth serving as a projection screen for film of Sir Ernest Shackleton's doomed (1914-1916) Antarctic expedition - part of the film shows his ship being crushed by ice. The video lasts 10 minutes and the artist keeps her mouth open the entire time.

Ms. Katchadourian's comfortless pose is an act of endurance. She is in pain, as witnessed by her contorted face and the repeated sounds of slurping on the video's minimal soundtrack. Pools of saliva build at the edges of her mouth, eventually spilling over. We are meant to empathize with her stoicism, mirroring that of the explorers.

Equally enthralling is an installation by Richie Kuhaupt and Geoffrey Drake-Brockman. ''Essentialiser'' (2003) consists of a darkened wooden cube crisscrossed with lasers arranged in a grid, meaning that anything in the cube is embedded in a matrix of little cubes of red light. Activity inside the cube is monitored by an infrared camera, and then displayed inside and out as a laser-generated model on feedback monitors. It's all very complicated.

Mr. Kuhaupt's and Mr. Drake-Brockman's futuristic installation is perhaps the freakiest work in the exhibition. I say that not for what it is, but for what it represents. Here, the body is mapped and then reduced to bare geometrical data. It is the electrical equivalent of cloning, with the laser beams transforming people into coded information and then creating virtual replicas. Is that scary? I think so, or maybe I've been watching too many sci-fi films.

Projection and visual reproduction are also central to Debra Pearlman's installations. Of the artist's three works in the exhibition, the best is ''Sleep'' (1990), a sandblasted image in glass set into a tabletop placed above a mound of sand. When light is shined through the glass, the shadow of two children appears on the sand. It is a subtle, clever work.

Peter Sarkisian is perhaps the best-known artist in the exhibition. His ''Book Series #28'' (1997) uses a video monitor concealed in a pile of books beneath a magnifying glass. The video image, visible through the magnifying glass, matches the missing section of the image on the cover of the book, in this case a classical painting of a naked woman. Every now and then, the woman's hand moves between her thigh and mid section. It's creepy.

Various kinds of light boxes (popular these days with artists to display photographs) can be found in the exhibition. Examples include David Michalek's photographs of homeless people, Elizabeth Cohen's and Michael Talley's X-ray photographs, Greg Geffner's 3-D stereoscopic light prints, Kristin Anderson's digital portraits with moving text, Kiki Seror's X-rated cyber sex stories. All are clever, engaging, and well made.

Sensual and lonesome, Shimon Attie's projection photographs kept drawing me back. One of them, ''Untitled Memories'' (1998) shows a prosaic apartment scene into which a reclining male figure has been projected. He is lying on a bed, drinking beer and watching television -- his fuzzy reflection all that can be seen on the television screen. It's an unsettling image, one that gets more and more intriguing the longer you look.

Finally, John Kalymnios deserves mention. At first, his light box images of clouds appear fairly unremarkable. Look closer and you'll see the surface is actually a piece of carved Corian plastic. The Corian has been expertly carved using a fine laser directed by a computer, with each image requiring hours of work. Without doubt, these works are among the most poetically beautiful and technically ingenious in the exhibition. And that is saying something.

''The Luminous Image VI'' is at Collaborative Concepts, 348 Main Street, Beacon, through Feb. 2. Information: (845) 838-1516.

Photos: ''Married by Dusk, Killed by Dawn (one thousand and one nights)'' by Kiki Seror, left, is part of an exhibition of artworks using light at Collaborative Concepts. ''Essentialiser,'' top right, is a futuristic installation by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman and Richie Kuhaupt. Below right: ''Untitled Cloudscape #1 & #3,'' part of a series by John Kalymnios.

Lasercube Kings Park

Mnemotech : sense + scape + time + memory
Published: Vol 22 no 4, 2002

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Mnemotech : sense + scape + time + memory

The eight artists invited by the new exhibition co-ordinator at PICA, Bec Dean, have responded to her theme - Mnemotechnics - 'the art of using unique physical elements of architectural space and landscape to trigger memory' and produced an exhibition which on entering generated a frisson of excitement. The most memorable pieces were created by sculptor Richie Kuhaupt working with computer scientist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman and by painter Lily Hibberd who incorporated film and music with her canvases.

Hibberd's vibrant work Burning Memory - Collapse (of dreams) dominated the large central space. The red and gold canvases depicted the violence of a raging inferno yet were not violent. The soft hazy focus of the pair of painted images rendered the experience surreal - indeed almost ethereal. They were several degrees of memory away from the associated black and white video loop which was screened as part of the work. This referenced Hitchcock's Rebecca as flames engulfed and destroyed a home, its contents and precious memories. A soulful piano score with performance by Matilda Robertson played over an accompaniment of crackling flames added to the otherworldliness and assisted in distancing the work from the violence.

Kuhaupt, who is well known for his cardboard section sculptures, and Drake-Brockman, who has a Master of Arts in addition to his Bachelor of Computer Science degree, started collaborating in 1998, taking out a commendation in the National Sculpture Award in Canberra in 2001. The new work Essentialiser: Lazercube III, explores the potential of laser mapping to create an interactive artwork. A large cube in the centre of an anteroom and four plasma screen panels on the wall are the basic pieces. The interior of the cube is gridded with infrared laser beams. When someone enters the box the laser beams map the body in three dimensions and these mapping lines are projected on the screen outside, moving when the subject moves. Three groups of people entered when I was there creating interesting and at times beautiful effects. Technical limitations also created bizarre images particularly with the first two - a father and son - the father wearing a dark shirt and the son dark trousers. The lasers could not read the dark clothing and so two half-body shapes wove in and out of each other with the horizontal lines always hurrying to catch up to the vertical. The next participant created a dance in her time inside. The graceful movement combined with a slight time lapse had a pair of dancers closely shadowing each other.

National Sculpture Prize and Exhibition
Published: No. 54, 2002

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Craft Arts National Sculpture Exhibition p1
Craft Arts National Sculpture Exhibition p2

Sculpture Wins Special Commendation at National Sculpture Exhibition
June 2002

Cyberware Development

Innovative Virtual/Real Sculpture Wins Special Commendation

Cyberware Chromeshin Article


Sculptural fantasias
Published: issue #48 April-May 2002 pg. web

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Sculptural fantasias

As the gates to Victoria’s Werribee Park open for the Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award (won this year by Nigel Helyer), the portals to the NGA Canberra’s National Sculpture Prize close. A fundamental difference between the latter, the Lempriere and Sydney’s Sculpture by the Sea is that the NGA Prize is not for outdoor or site-specific works. Finalists, some newcomers, others well-established artists, each given $2000 to initiate and complete an idea or refine and extend an earlier work, often saw their works assembled for the first time at the exhibition opening. Each piece here effectively can relocate itself, and, because of this, the exhibition provides both stimulation and a kind of jarring in its eclectic array of discrete pieces made to be viewed in quiet white-walled rooms.

Whilst down the corridor Rodin’s 19th century works, Rodin: A Magnificent Obsession, clutch at their individuated despair with a solemn grace, it strikes me as provocative that the inaugural contemporary Sculpture Prize has gone to a figurative work. Ah Xian’s Human, Human-Lotus, Cloisonne. However, in contrast to Rodin’s muscled agonies and surging sexual vignettes, it is ethereal and meditative, like a form both smoothed by and surviving burial beneath water, its fine flowered and veined cloisonne-work embedded in life-size porcelain a technical marvel, its aloofness from “all kinds of political struggling, fighting, power gaining and the endless wars that exist in the world” initially taking some adjustment to sit with in the room. Like Keats’ Grecian urn, it is a “foster child of silence and slow time,” the figure emulating the quietude of a sacred vase, or pond.

By contrast, Geoffrey Drake-Brockman and Richie Kuhaupt’s Chromeskin, with its passive naked chromed male mannequin standing before a telephone-box sized prism, is a computer-interactive work where viewers’ gestures, body positions and approaches towards the box affect and reshape the gestures, turns and colours of the animated version of the mannequin within it, “an encounter between two aspects of human agency-the physical and the virtual-arranged en tableau”.

I am not sure which of these two works issues a deeper challenge. The recognition that all looking is an interactive encounter, and that many tableaux (of culture, of experience, across timezones) are activated in proximity to sculptural works, can be overshadowed by languages that almost strip the delicacy from this awareness.

Review: Geoffrey at The Verge by Kuhaupt and Drake-Brockman
24 March 2001

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REVIEW: Geoffrey at The Verge by Kuhaupt and Drake-Brockman

Review by Bromfeild of Drake-Brockman