Marco Donnarumma (DE/IT)

Amygdala is an installation exploring the essence of humans’ expectations and anxieties over artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. It reanimates a key symbol of human collective history – an ancient ritual of purification – through the glare of today’s technocratic society.

An AI robot in the form of an uncannily human-like limb is nested inside an industrial-grade server cabinet. The same cabinet used in computer server farms. Named Amygdala, the robot uses a sharp steel knife to sculpt a large piece of skin. Its labor is careful and never-ending. The robot’s only aim is, in fact, to learn an animistic ritual of purification known as “skin-cutting.”

Amygdala / Marco Donnarumma (DE/IT), Credit:

The robot’s movements are not pre-programmed, but emerge interactively from particular neural networks called “biomimetic adaptive algorithms.” These algorithms, used in humanoid robotics development and programmed by Donnarumma, mimic the sensorimotor system of mammals. Thus, the robot learns by doing; it teaches itself the cognitive and physical discipline required to perform the ritual.


An artwork by Marco Donnarumma in collaboration with Neurobotics Research Laboratory (DE) and Ana Rajcevic Studio (DE/GB).

Concept, research, artistic direction and programming: Marco Donnarumma
Additional programming and research: Prof. Alberto de Campo 
Scientific advisor: Prof. Manfred Hild
3D modeling and printing: Christian Schmidts
Exhibit design research: Rosalie Laurin
Photography: Margherita Pevere, William Veder, Marco Donnarumma
Co-production: Retune Festival
Funding: Berlin University of the Arts, Graduiertenschule
Funding: Einstein Stiftung
In kind support: Berlin Center for Advanced Studies in Arts and Sciences
In kind support / Dissemination: Baltan Laboratories