In Paris this past January, at the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain, a giant robot took center stage and began an intricate duo act with a man. Although it was completely novel, it felt slightly familiar too, because the robot, known as RoboPole, was, in fact, an equal partner in the routine, and as such had a character. Since the beginning of time, humans have been ascribing human characteristics to animals, puppets and also every machine they have made–its our own special God complex, so of course circus is no exception. Watching the human/robot the relationship play out, seeing the immense power of many tons of steel as it navigated space with its human partner, Martin Riedel, was something to behold, thanks also to Joanna Bassi, director of choreography for helping that magic unfold. In fact, it may be something many of us behold more of in the future, as tech becomes more integrated into to our daily lives, artists are more apt to embrace it as a tool. The act was awarded the Cirque Du Soleil Performance and Artistic Innovative Vision trophy, and Martin and UliK have since gone on to develop a full show with the encouragement of the circus industry. We had the pleasure to talk to the circus artist Martin Riedel as well as the hidden human behind the robot, UliK about their work with RoboPole and the concept of robotics in the arts.
About Martin Kim Campbell: Tell us a little about your background as a circus artist? What was your specialty at school? What other types of circus shows and work have you done before working with RoboPole? Photo courtesy of Katharina Ini Halser Martin Riedel: I graduated with a diago...
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