What happens when a robotic arm goes crazy on the job? That’s the idea behind Out of Order, a hanging LED lamp designed by Dutch studio BCXSY and Atelier Robotiq, a Rotterdam-based collective that uses industrial robotics to make lighting fixtures and furniture. Out of Order is meant to evoke the product of a computer mind gone haywire.
Robots, the designers say, are usually perceived as “flawless workers.” Obviously, robots are neither flawless nor workers–they’re machines that are programmed to carry out tasks. But if we’re going to anthropomorphize machines, we can also imagine that they’ll get eventually get tired of following our commands. “But what would happen once the flawless worker becomes less impeccable?” BCXSY founders Boaz Cohen and Sayaka Yamamoto tell Dezeen. “What if it would grow tired of its daily routine, or becomes absent-minded while daydreaming?”
Maybe the repetition would grow maddening–enough so that the machine would revolt, and start doing whatever it wanted.
In the case of the Out of Order lamp, the studio instructs a robotic arm to weave a perfectly repeating spiral pattern using epoxy-reinforced yarn around a solid cylinder. Midway through the spinning process, though, pattern begins to warp in unexpected, increasingly random ways. “The warped lines are caused by a specially developed ‘randomizing’ algorithm that instructs the fibers to deviate from their course,” the studio writes. “The seeming randomness of these interwoven patterns suggests that the robot has developed a mind of its own. As the distortions in the linework are never the same, this makes each and every lamp truly unique.”
Once the cylinder is covered with the yarn and the resin has solidified, a not-so-drunk human worker removes the mesh from the cylinder and adds the LED light rod and hardware. You can check out the lamp in person at the Rosanna Orlandi gallery in Milan or at Gallery Oode in Amsterdam.