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Robot Apocalypse Update: Robotic Gamelan Descends on Chelsea Art Museum

Photo: Everett Bogue


On Friday, the Chelsea Art Museum hosted an extraordinarily horrifying event that likely means the extinction of the human race is now imminent: a concert by robot Gamelan Orchestra, Gamelatron (for the uninitiated, Gamelan is a form of music from the Indonesian island of Java). The robust machine, created by the artist (mad scientist?!) Zemi17 (or Aaron Taylor Kuffner) over the course of the seven months — supported by LEMUR (The League of Electrical Musical Urban Robots) — takes a traditional Gamelan orchestra and replaces the well-trained Javanese with metronome-accurate computer-controlled robotic arms! This created a sound more akin to house music than a gathered circle of pacific islanders. The mostly human audience was amazed.

In the aftermath of the performance, as the remnants of the human race stood about in shock and awe, we managed to ask Taylor the one question that must have been on everyone's robot-fearing mind: How do you feel about contributing to the obsolescence of the humanity? "Well, I don't know if that's really the intention. In fact, I think humans could do better. I could do better." Sadly, though, we doubt he could play a gong that well. —Everett Bogue