Sonic robotics: musical genres as platforms for understanding robotic performance as cultural events

Wade Marynowsky*, Julian Knowles, Oliver Bown, Sam Ferguson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines how artist Wade Marynowsky’s recent robotic performance art projects are framed within musical genres: Opera, in Robot Opera (2015), Ambient/Glitch, in Synthesiser-Robot (2017); and Disco, in The Ghosts of Roller Disco (2020). By positioning the projects within known music genres, the research expands the canon of Cultural Robotics by providing platforms that allow wider communities to understand the presentation of robotic performance as cultural events within a historical context. Notions of robotic agency, dramaturgy, choreography, robotic musical gesture, and robotic musicianship are explored across three case studies, which are presented in the contexts of live performance festivals and durational exhibitions: (1) Robot Opera, a dramaturgically designed, interactive opera for eight, larger than life-sized robots; (2) Synthesiser-Robot, a solo autonomous robot performance for a repurposed industrial robot arm, theUR3, and a hardware-software interface, the Ableton Push; and (3) The Ghosts of Roller Disco, a choreographed performance for eight robotic roller skates. The research highlights the importance of robotic agency by applying autonomous and interactive movement, localised sound, and surround sound design in creating immersive and engaging robotic performance art experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCultural robotics
Subtitle of host publicationsocial robots and their emergent cultural ecologies
EditorsBelinda J. Dunstan, Jeffrey T. K. V. Koh, Deborah Turnbull Tillman, Scott Andrew Brown
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783031281389
ISBN (Print)9783031281372
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Publication series

NameSpringer Series on Cultural Computing
ISSN (Print)2195-9056
ISSN (Electronic)2195-9064


  • musical robotics
  • performance
  • electronic music
  • experimental art
  • media art


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  • Robot opera: A Gesamtkunstwerk for the 21st century

    Marynowsky, W., Knowles, J. & Frost, A., 2016, Cultural Robotics. Koh, J. T. K. V., Dunstan, B. J., Silvera-Tawil, D. & Velonaki, M. (eds.). Switzerland : Springer, Springer Nature, Vol. 9549. p. 143-158 16 p. (Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence; vol. 9549).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)

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