kirsty boyle :: robotics artist


karakuri In 2002 I received an Australia Council for the Arts grant, enabling me to study under artisan Mr Shobei Tamaya IX, a ninth generation Karakuri Ningyo craftsman and the last remaining mechanical doll master in Japan. In addition, I spent time at Nagoya University with Dr Yoshikazu Suematsu, founder of the Suematsu Robotics Laboratory; currently Director of the Toyota National College of Technology, in Nagoya, Japan.

‘Karakuri’ = a mechanical device to tease, trick, or take a person by surprise. Central to the Karakuri philosophy is concealment of technology, to evoke feelings and emotions and a sense of hidden inner magic. Karakuri is the starting point from which Japan’s love of robots and technology has developed.

These experiences have prompted me to continue studying the Karakuri craft and how it relates to contemporary robot culture and science innovation. The historical and cultural aspects of robots in society continues to be a major theme that informs my artistic practice.

I am actively involved in delivering lectures, workshops and hosting forums at educational institutions and festivals internationally on Karakuri, robots and art/scientific applications of technology.

Major Karakuri related projects:
2010 tree ceremony incorporates traditional Japanese Karakuri (mechanical doll) craft practice with innovative Swiss Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to produce a hybrid robot for open interaction.
2008 Eight minute single channel video art work titled ‘ningyo’, produced in Japan.
2008 Australia tour – Karakuri workshops with Master Tamaya Shobei IX, Questacon (The National Science and Technology Centre) and at Winmalee High School, the Blue Mountains.  Supported by the Japan Foundation and the Australia Japan Foundation.
2006 – present Producer, Researcher and Writer of ‘karakuri.info’ – a documentary film in development.
2003 Produced karakuri.info, the first online English archive about the Karakuri tradition.

2011 Projektionsfiguren in der Kunst – Figures of Projection in Contemporary Art, Museum Villa Rot, Burgrieden, Germany
With Dennis Oppenheim, Tony Oursler, Cindy Sherman, Eva Aeppli, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Yves Netzhammer and others.
2010 – 2011 Robot Dreams, Museum Tinguely, Basel, Switzerland in parallel with Art Basel;
Kunsthaus Graz, Austria in conjunction with the 2010 Steirischer Herbst festival
With Nam June Paik, John Bock, Jon Kessler, Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau, Walter Pichler, Ed Kienholz, Richard Kriesche, Francois Roche, Virgil Widrich, Stelarc, Tom Sachs and others.
2009 Love the Robots, Dock18, Zurich, Switzerland
2009 Social Machines, MedienKunstLabor @ Kunsthaus Graz, Austria
2005 International Karakuri Contest 2005 finalist, Japan.
2004 Replicate Automate Infiltrate, Electrofringe 2004/net.ART, Newcastle
2004 karakuri, in conjunction with the 2004 Next Wave Festival, North Melbourne Town Hall, Melbourne
2003 karakuri.info, WestSpace Gallery, Melbourne
2003 Run_Way Young and Emerging Artists, Australia Council for the Arts, Sydney