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Pulse-Robotics is delighted to be a sponsor of the BOCOLAB "evolved tableau" art project.
This is also the first public display of robots powered by the Pulse-Core social robot engine.

HERE ARE THE LATEST PICTURES: Latest Video of the Triennial Robots

September 17, 2010 - BOCOLAB wins first place in the Idaho Triennial!

Pulse-Robotics is delighted to announce that the BOCOLAB team has taken first place in the Idaho Triennial. The team worked incredibly hard to bring this very complex robotic installation to life. This was an amazing collaborative effort with people from around the state and across the world pitching in to make this happen. First place in the Triennial comes with an additional benefit -- BOCOLAB will get its own exhibition. Our collaborators and volunteers need to rest up as we have a lot of art to create in preparation for this show.

Next week the tours begin at the Boise Art Museum and school children from all over the Treasure Valley will be visiting the Museum and seeing our "Objects with Empathy" exhibit. This may  be one of the few times that they will see beautiful, leading edge art and advanced robotics working together to explore the future relationship between humans and our machines. This could be the moment in a child's life where they realize that pursuing a career in technology doesn't mean that they have to give up their creative, artistic side -- rather they can embrace both sides of their being. These are the employees that we all want to hire in the next decade and now is the time for all of us show them an inspiring future! Please consider joining Pulse-Robotics in donating to the Corpus Callosum foundation which was founded by artists and scientists to further the integration of art & science. Corpus Callosum is a not for profit Boise State University Foundation. Corpus Callosum Donations

What is a BOCOLAB?

BOCOLAB is the Boise Cooperative Laboratories; a loose organization allowing people from different disciplines to combine art and science in ways that challenge and expand our notions of what is possible. BOCOLAB came into being through the untiring work of Joseph Coffland, an independent software developer and an ardent supporter of open source and other collaborative technologies.

Artist Statement (from the Idaho Triennial application for this tableau)

Artists and Scientists, alike, are explorers. In overly simplified terms, scientists use logic and rational methods to understand the world, while artists use intuition and irrational means to glimpse reality.

BOCOLAB is a collaborative effort to bring together these two methodologies. Like many artists and scientists of the past, it is our goal to explore the relationship between humans and our environment. Today, our environment is dominated by a rapid introduction of digital technologies, which has created an entirely new dimension in our cultural and physical landscape. It is this nexus of the physical and the virtual that we are currently investigating. BOCOLAB shares the idea that innovation, inspiration, meaning, and magic can all emerge from the intersection of art and science.

The current installation is comprised of 3 robotic, interactive sculptures. A chair, a table and a lamp. In this piece we are exploring the relationship between ourselves and our creations, as they evolve.

Francis Fox

Caleb Chung

John Sosoka


What is this installation?

The synthesis of this installation formed in the fertile brain of Caleb Chung as he was investigating the idea of objects with empathy. We continue to give our technology more autonomy and more "intelligence" in order that it might better serve us. What might happen if we added empathy to this evolution?

Often the most stimulating interactions are those that bring together individuals with very different backgrounds and experiences. Of necessity these object are all from a future that is sufficiently advanced to build such devices. But to open up the interactive possibilities, each piece came from a different environment. The chair came from a the workshop of a brilliant, aging inventor and it was designed with many degrees of freedom to assist him as his own body was beginning to fail him. The lamp originally lived in a very sophisticated home that was filled with parties and dinners and famous guests. The lamp is cultured and empathetic to needs of others. Finally there is simple but beautiful little table. It started life as a companion for a preschool child in a modest with a young family. The human child and the table would draw and play for hours, exploring and creating. Now with no child to play with it, the table entertains itself by drawing what it is thinking on the surface of the table, sometimes taking turns playing the role of the long lost child and then riffing and expanding the drawing itself as it did many years ago. This unlikely trio have been brought together by an eccentric collector to be exhibited at the museum. Now they have formed an unlikely but supportive 'family' living their lives out in public, often interrupted by the humans whom they were built to serve but who now are more intruders into their world than the masters of days gone by.

The Chair 

3D model and rendering by Amit Thakkar.

The first step in creating this installation was the development of the powerful and grouchy robotic chair. Sculpted of stainless steel and imbued with 8 linear actuators, sensors. and a social mind, it was  a challenging character to bring to life. Caleb took up the challenge and Francis Fox, sculpture professor at Boise State and master metalworker in his own right, provided technical and artistic guidance in the creation of this chair. Tyler Wilson and John Sosoka built and programmed the first control system for this chair. That early system has been replaced by a far more sophisticated system using the Pulse-Core social engine. Our thanks to Ron Richter for his artistry in building up the electronics and to John Lundberg for his efforts in updating the linear sensors.

The Table

The table uses a future display and sensing technology that does not exist in 2010 due to the lack of a critical component made of Unobtainium. The artists have used a data projector that projects images onto a polymer treated to absorb the light into the surface creating a rich glow that approaches the look of Unobtainium. The physical design of the table came from Francis and Caleb with Francis guiding the fabrication.

3D model and rendering by Amit Thakkar.

The Lamp

The lamp is the most sophisticated, expressive and difficult to craft object in this tableau. It is primarily fashioned from aluminum on a grand scale. When fully extended the lamp is over seven feet tall! It weighs over 200 pounds and can draw more than 30 amps when it is excited. As you recall this lamp was meant for a sophisticated environment with sophisticated people. As such it is highly empathetic and has a grace and subtlety to its motions. In addition to being able to cast light on anything within its reach in any color, it also has a thin, transparent polycarbonate ring at the narrow end of the lampshade that can glow in any color to give its master, and other observant individuals, insight into its internal emotional state.

3D model and rendering by Amit Thakkar

The Tableau 

3D model and rendering by Amit Thakkar

What can expect this installation to do?

ogether at last, here is the original tableau as modeled by Amit Thakkar based on conversations with the other artists. As you look at the construction of each piece you will see that there are many, many changes but, at its heart, this is the tableau.

To get the team thinking about how this exhibit might appear to the casual art patron we developed a set of storyboards to give an idea of what might happen. To wrangle our conversation into actual storyboards we brought in our storyboard wizard, writer and artist, Jeff Myers. Here are the very first storyboards created for this project. Much has changed since then but the feel of the interaction between the pieces and the viewers remains the same.


A project such as is influenced by everyone we come in contact with. From our fellow artists and tech wizards to our family, local barista, even folks we've met backpacking in the wilderness. We appreciate all of you so much. However some people have given up so much of their time and talent with no rewards other than the joy of it and some of Sylvia's cooking to keep us going. Here Caleb, Francis and John would like to take a bit of space to thank you super-contributors. We'll tell a little about you but feel free to contact John if you would rather be stealth about your contributions or your past.

Caleb Chung- Robotics designer, Character Development-

John Sosoka- Project Lead, Control System Design-

Francis Fox- Metal Sculpture and Aesthetic Form-

Tyler Wilson-
Lead Programmer and Software Integration- co-founder of Pulse-Robotics and a huge technical contributor to this project.

Ron Richter- Senior Technician- Design and construction of the circuit boards for the chair and figuring out how to route that mass of cables in an "artistic" fashion.

Jeff Myers
- Illustrator and Visual Animations- Responsible for all table visualizations, pre-visualization storyboards. Storyboard artist for many years of "The Simpsons", sculptor, character designer, writer and much more. Jeff provided the initial storyboards for this project and he IS the table's inner artist.

Johnny Weld-
Welding and Fabrication- An extraordinary craftsman and artist. His level of skill pushed all of us to reach higher.

Jordan Clifford - Always wrangling machines, antennas, batch files, hardware and everything else that tries to slip through the cracks.

Rob Cohen - Problem solving, engineering, procuring esoterica to make the project come to life.

Amit Thakkar- 3D Artist and Animator- His models and renderings supported this project early on by allowing us to communicate our ideas to the Triennial selection committee.

Nicolas Steven Alkire-
Electromechanical and Software intern- Doing everything from wiring to testing to just moving heavy boxes around. What a Summer adventure.

John Sosoka III-
Sound Engineer-

India Southern- Production Assistant- Everywhere; always ready to help. Tracking animations, filenames, descriptions, moving heavy things, making lunch, you name it she's done it.

Eric Regner  - As always an amazing collaborator on mechanical design, animations and rigging.

Kathe Alkire - Friend of the project. Lunches, support and the occasional bottle of wine just when the team needs it.

Sylvia Sosoka - Team Mom! Sylvia kept us laughing as she discovered live streaming video in her garage. She created a space and a home for the project. Cooked endless meals and snacks and goodies. Brightened everyone's day -- every day.