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Artist Bio

SWARM was designed and created by a loose-knit group of artists-engineer-scientists in San Francisco, California. Many of us have been involved with the | Flaming Lotus Girls and other Bay Area artist groups. We work primarily out of The Box Shop artist space in the Hunter's Point area of San Francisco. We started designing SWARM in late 2006, demonstrated our first rolling prototype at the 2007 Makers Faire, and deployed the full fleet of six rolling Orbs at Burning Man in 2007. Since then we have deployed the Orbs at numerous art events and gatherings, and are continually updating the hardware and software with the goal of fully autonomous Orb performances. We wish to acknowledge the Burning Man Organization for the initial funding that helped turn SWARM into a reality.

To contact the makers of SWARM, join our mailing list or email us at info at orbswarm dat com.

Read some SWARM member biographies.

Artist Statements

from California Academy Roll November 2011

SWARM is a fleet of semiautonomous rolling orbs. They were created to move, sing, dance, illuminate and interact with one another and those around them. With GPS guidance and computer control, the spheres can execute motions evocative of animals and dancers.

SWARM is built to explore the aesthetic possibilities in the emergent behavior of artificial systems. As a first step, Orbs are remote-controlled by human operators, but each Orb's sounds and color illumination is algorithmically generated in response to location and motion.

We are progressing towards sophisticated navigational algorithms, much like those used in spacecraft, that allow each orb to determine its location with high accuracy. From this, we can explore emergent and cooperative behavior like flocking as well as new possibilities in machine choreography. SWARM is not a simulation. SWARM is a platform for art of the 21st century.

from Coachella 2008

Coachella-guide-swarm-page.jpg

SWARM (San Francisco, CA) is a large-scale kinetic art installation, featuring six robotic rolling orbs interacting with humans through motion, sound and light.

from Maker Faire 2008

Img 7685.jpg

A kinetic art work of semi-autonomous spherical robots ("Orbs"). Each robot has a shell 30 inches in diameter, with batteries, motors, audio system and color LED illumination inside.

SWARM is built to explore the aesthetic possibilities in the emergent behavior of artificial systems. As a first step, Orbs are remote-controlled by human operators, but each Orb's sounds and color illumination is algorithmically generated in response to location and motion.

We are progressing towards sophisticated navigational algorithms, much like those used in spacecraft, that allow each orb to determine its location with high accuracy. From this, we can explore emergent and cooperative behavior like flocking as well as new possibilities in machine choreography. SWARM is not a simulation. SWARM is a platform for art of the 21st century.


from VIDA 2007

[1] SWARM is a fleet of semiautonomous rolling orbs. They were created to move, sing, dance, illuminate and interact with one another and those around them.

While they can play back set dances, they are most interesting when the controls are given over to the orbs themselves. By acting in concert, the individuals, together behave in ways that not even their creators have forseen.


Previous Appearances