Defective Apparatus

Roy Macdonald (CL)

It refuses to behave according to its original rules and insists on avoiding people. part 1.1.

This project takes the form of an interactive installation driven by a laser beam which interacts with the audience by bouncing on a number of computer-controlled mirrors in order to avoid people. The laser beam, according to the Hollywood-esque code, works simultaneously for delimiting space and as an intruder-detection system. In the case of this work, this laser beam loses its original use because it “acquired a phobia towards people,” causing it to avoid people constantly. Each time someone or something blocks the beam, the system reconfigures its mirrors so the beam avoids the blocked route, generating a new space delimitation, although this route is originally chosen randomly and fed into a machine learning algorithm, so the next time it can make a better decision. It learns by “trial and error.” The whole learning phase of this work happens during the show, so this relationship between human interaction, errors and learning becomes a new narrative layer of this work.


Project made during the Computational Arts residency setup by the Department of Computing at Goldsmiths, University of London and the Victoria and Albert Museum Digital programs.

Supported by Ministerio de las Culturas, las Artes y el Patrimonio and the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores | Gobierno de Chile