Summary: Full report of the Roboexotica 2016 in Vienna
The “most beautiful intoxication of Vienna”, and certainly the most nerdy one, is the yearly Roboexotica festival for Cocktail-robotic, co-organised each year in Vienna by artist group monochrom. I love to go there since many years, to see crazy cocktail-making machines, there charming creators and their enchanted guests. This is my report for 2016.
This year, the Roboexotica event was celebrated from Thursday, 8. december until Sunday, the 11. December 2016. Drinking, chatting and making interviews at the same time is a bit taxing to body and spirit. Lucky for me, i got help this year from Janice Domej; she volunteered to help me making video interviews with the techno-artists of Roboexotica.
The roboexotica exist since 1999, but there is no sign of boredom yet. The artists Johannes Grenzfurthner and Günther Friesinger -both from monochrom- told me in interviews that Roboexotica is meant to stay small and fine. In fact, as in previous years too many hard-drinking guests showed up, the marketing for Roboexotica is now by purpose reduced to attract smaller crowds. There is however a spin-off in San Francisco (barcraft?) and everyone from the Roboexotica team seems to be pretty relaxed about “forking” of similar projects.
While the main purpose of Roboexotica seems to be the blend of art, drinking, party and cool Do-it-yourself technology, i noticed while speaking with the artists that nearly every “machine” had an RaspberryPi or an Arduino in-buildt.
Failure is also an important aspect of every Roboexotica: Most machines fail sooner or later, some crews can be seen constantly busy with maintenance work and fixing/improving their robots, and some robots simply never become functional in time for the party. The Roboexotica organisators try to create many different category of prices for their participants, among them an special “fail” price.
Interview with Johannes Grenzfurthner from monochrom about why he dresses up and why Roboexotica is cool:
Interview with Günther Friesinger (monochrom) about 19 years Roboexotica and why small is beautiful:
Please note that this interview is in German language, i may make an translated transcript if i find the time
Even if i visited the roboexotica on all 4 days in a row, i did not managed to interview every artist. Not because there were so many but because i had to try out each machine myself and this made an deep negative impact on my productivity. If you find reports about other robots not mentioned in this reports please send me the url so that i can link to those articles.
Aside of meeting other nerds, one of the key attractions of each Roboexotica is to try out the various robots/machines. Often those are installations involving drinking games with several participants at the same time. My personal favorite of 2016 was “shoota”, a nerf-gun-shooting range, where the level of alcohol in the mixed drink depends on how many target (in an “Rick and Morty” theme based shooting range) a participant is able to hit. Lousy shooters get lousy drinks, top shots get drinks with more alcohol. As one of the creators proudly explained, the whole thing is self-regulating and avoids overdrinking, due to the in-buildt accuracy test. The crew maintenancing the Shoota drinking robot was always besieged by a large crowd of young and old drinks/nerf-gun lovers and had to manually reload nerfguns without pause.
The cogwheels for the pump are 3d-printed.
Always attracting much audience was the “suck your luck”…installation. It's a drinking game where two kneeling participants have to suck at pipes. A computer measures the power of ..sucking, and the stronger sucker gets alcohol while the weaker sucker gets lemon. The fact that the pipelines run through big dildos made sure that all participants were much photographed.
Please note that the video is age-restricted
Do you like aspic? This machine delivers aspic, meat and lots of vodka, for one healthy, slightly wobbling meal! The artist met his wife at an Roboexotica party, both have a child now. He told me that half of the guests “got” the humor of his machine and other half did not. I liked the idea a lot. While the product tasted better than it looked, it was not exactly my kind of dish.
more vodka wobbling:
The cutest robot, always admired and photographed, was without doubt the line-following gaston. He wobbled along his track, pausing at defined stations near glasses. As soon as a patron put a glass inside him and pushed buttons to choose an color-indicated drinkt, Gaston zipped busy to his refill station, got the drink and delivered it with extreme cuteness. I sat in a corner next to him and had the honor of saving gaston from suicide-while-serving (he tried lemming-like to fall off the table) so i grow quite attached to him. The students constantly maintenancing him told me that it would be technically possible to make him a more complex track with Y-forks.
Please note that the original video with project professor Chris Veigl got lost. I put the audio file of his interview to various footage of Gaston
Looking a bit like an blinking door-frame, This device delivered an “shot” (a short stream of alcohol) directly into the mouth of a guest…if he aimed his position directly. As creator Reinhard Sprung explained to me, the predecessor or his device was a watering can in the form of a duck, filled with drinks, that he used to “water” his party guests. The machine inspired guests to acrobatic, more difficult positions, like lying on the floor.
Honestly, i was too intoxicated to understand what the “Battlehexe” installation was about. Janice was still able to make an interview:
Strictly anti-alcoholic, this stylish looking device created an Japanese Miso soup. The crew operating it featured most impressive make-up of the party. The plastic parts were laser-cutted. The colorful parts (moving) are a cut from a carving board. Both artist had japanese costumes and the Shlomit Migay displayed each day another very impressive, complicated makeup: http://www.facebook.com/dash.couture.tech
A “Kaiserspritzer” is an popular summer drink in Austria, made of white wine and holder (Sambucus nigra). This -most relaxing- machine simply made one, while playing the “Kaiser waltz”. Every garden party need such an machine!
The artist entertained himself and guests with juggling:
The flaming assbot delivered a strong drink that must be sucked out of a burning glass. Impressive!
testing out the drink:
Some robots were only visible at certain days. Some robots had no crew present or i was otherwise unable to interview their creators. I want to mention one robot consisting of a red illuminated stone ball that had a little fountain of cherry booze on it's top. Guests were supposed to drink from it through a straw.
Another one was made with Lego mindstorm and Lego parts. It was a kind of vest werared by a young lady, Susanne Brezina. In the front was an illuminated, heart-shaped area with a very tiny glass. At the back of the vest was a pump, a motor and a tank. The wearer could initiate the pump and -very slowly- get the little glass filled with a drink. I had a nice talk with the maker of the vest Susanne and the creator of the vest, Michael Brandl. Both are active in the Austrian Lego community and were interested in design. However, i found myself soon too distracted by arriving friends. Also, it was my 4th day at Roboexotica, my work ethic was a bit damaged.
One installation was some kind of robot guarding a box of pretzel sticks. He seemed to react to visitors and closed and opened the box.
Hard to ignore was the trump-bot, an installation quoting USA president Trump and playing a drum roll / fanfare after each quote.
Another installation was a kind of marble game, where guests had to snip a marble into a hole of a board to get a drink.
Most important for every hungry guest was the Amalettomat, a machine making fully automatic hot crepes.
I already interviewed 2014 the makers of “Schnapsorgel”, a very professional made cocktail mixing device. Guests could touch their desired drink on a tablet and the drink was fully-autmated made. The interview can be found here (in German language): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5c47jcCYwlY (at 0:41:30). The maker also has his own blog: http://partyrobotics.com/blogs/blog