Welcome our new PEEK Project on Creative Robotics!

Machine Movement Lab studies 2017–18. Mit freundlicher Genehmigung von Petra Gemeinboeck.

We are thrilled to announce that our department will host an artistic research project on humans and robots, run by Petra Gemeinboeck and funded by the PEEK Programme of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) from June 2019 till June 2022. Petra Gemeinboeck, PhD, Deputy Director, Creative Robotics Lab at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia will join our faculty from this summer on—spreading her experimental art practice on creative robotics! Petra Gemeinboeck reflects with her art projects and performances our ambiguities and vulnerabilities in our relationships with machines and is interested in making tangible the desires and politics involved. Her practice in machine performance, interactive installation, and virtual environments engages participants in scenarios of encounter, in which they are provoked to negotiate or conspire with a machinic co-performer (www.impossiblegeographies.net).

Dancing with the Nonhuman: an Aesthetics of Encounter

Robots are set to be all around us—at work, at home, in schools, hospitals and nursing homes. They are said to be our drivers, couriers, receptionists, managers, soldiers, teachers, doctors, nurses, therapists and lovers. This vision of our technological future is already beginning to take shape—with many of these machines being figured as humanlike as possible, often in cute or stereotypically gendered ways.

Dancing with the Nonhuman puts forward a counter-proposition to this mechanical charade by embracing the machinic and its aesthetic potential, beyond a humanlike veneer. The project develops a transdisciplinary, arts-based approach that explores the socio-cultural phenomenon of human-machine relationships as an aesthetics of performance. Bringing together creative robotics and choreography with enactive concepts and feminist perspectives, the aim is to investigate alternative and fundamentally embodied and performative ecologies of human-robot encounter. The project thus seeks to open up social notions of the nonhuman through an empathic–embodied inquiry beyond the subject-object divide. Here, agency and identity are not understood as predefined properties that can be programmed into a machine but are enacted in the event of the encounter.

Dancing with the Nonhuman brings together a team of international experts from creative robotics and choreography to develop a unique methodology for studying the aesthetic and social potential of movement and performance-making for human-robot interaction. At its core, the project will develop a corporeal (inhabitable) interface that offers performers immersive, embodied and kinaesthetic experiences of the robot’s material and perceptual world. Employed in an experimental practice of performance-making, this kinesthetic-material entanglement will drive our aesthetic probing into rigid subject-object boundaries, to mobilise and reimagine them.

Dancing with the Nonhuman is funded through the PEEK Programme, Austrian Science Fund (FWF), 2019-22, and part of the ongoing research initiative Machine Movement Lab (MML), founded by Petra Gemeinböck and Rob Saunders in 2015. The images show experimental studies and outcomes from an earlier MML project, funded through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project scheme.


Petra Gemeinböck
Marie-Claude Poulin
Rob Saunders
Rochelle Haley
Roos van Berkel


Machine Movement Lab studies 2017–18, led by Petra Gemeinböck and Rob Saunders, with choreographers Tess de Quincey and Marie-Claude Poulin and performers Linda Luke, Kerstin Packham and Audrey Rochette.