Survival Research Laboratories: Post-Apocalypse Now

November 09th, 1999 | Category: Essays

Remember the evil toys from the movie Toy Story, the ones with all the mis-matched parts from other toys, all rearranged into new strategies of purpose? Imagine those same toys built to life-like scale: in car-lengths instead of Lego-lengths, built with military surplus parts and armed with military surplus weapons. Now picture no-holds-barred warfare between these bastardized giants of the scrap heap. A skirmish between screaming, fire-breathing, chewing, burning monsters bent on hate for one another and devoid of concern for their human overseers.

Survival Research LaboratoriesWelcome to the post-apocalyptic world of Mark Pauline’s Survival Research Laboratories. Pauline and company have been building and destroying such machines since 1978. They collect surplus military parts and “repurpose” them into massively dangerous and destructive robots and then stage arena-like, free-for-all wars among them. On-looker beware: at an SRL show, control is a relative concept.

Since Pauline and his renegade band of electrical engineers, robotics experts, computer scientists, machinists, etc. started just over twenty years ago, a diverse second generation has sprung up to both expand and continue SRL’s original vision. These vagabond troops of post-now artistic vision present glimpses of possible quantum futures by combining full-scale exhibits, installations, man/machine experiments, spectator participation, web interaction, telepresence and of course the aforementioned mechanized melées — including teams of robot-builders who stage battles between their machines.

[Disinformation, November 09, 1999]

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