Garnet Hertz

Telepresent Animal Hall of Fame, Artist


Garnet Hertz is an artist, maker, builder, and theorist whose work explores themes of DIY culture, technological progress, creativity, innovation and interdisciplinarity. Hertz is Artist in Residence and Research Scientist in Informatics at UC Irvine, faculty in the Media Design Program at Art Center College of Design, and Assistant Director of the EVOKE Lab at UCI. He has shown his work at several notable international venues in thirteen countries including SIGGRAPH, Ars Electronica, and DEAF and was awarded the 2008 Oscar Signorini Award in robotic art. He is founder and director of Dorkbot SoCal, a monthly Los Angeles-based lecture series on DIY culture, electronic art and design. His research is widely cited in academic publications, and popular press on his work has disseminated through 25 countries including The New York Times, Wired, The Washington Post, NPR, USA Today, NBC, CBS, TV Tokyo and CNN Headline News.

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Garnet Hertz takes part in the Telepresent Animal Exhibition, February to May 2014.

Cockroach Controlled Mobile Robot (2004-2006)

The Telepresent Animal Hall of Fame

Cockroach Controlled Mobile Robot (2004-2006)

This studio project by Garnet Hertz is a critique of the field of biomimetic robotics and an exploration into the difference between biological organisms and computational systems. In this project, an actual insect controls the movement of a knee-height three-wheeled robot that is able to roam through a physical space. The insect sits on top of a modified computer trackball placed at the center of the machine, which operates like a two axis treadmill that controls the motion of the larger robot. The robot also features a navigation and sensor system to help the insect avoid smashing the robot into nearby objects. An array of distance sensors looks out in front of the robot. When an object is a few feet in front of the machine, the sensors detect the object and shine lights toward the insect from the direction of the obstacle. Since cockroaches tend to avoid light, the insect turns into the dark and steers the robot away from obstacles. While the cyborg-like machine is in operation, it highlights key characteristics of being biological, illustrating attributes like unpredictability, laziness, irrationality and emotional response. This project has had a deep impact on the field of robotic art, winning the XXV Oscar Signorini Prize (Milan, Italy) and Honorable Mention at the Vida 9.0 Art & Artificial Life International Competition (Madrid, Spain). It has been featured on the front page of the New York Times, and in numerous publications, documentaries and interviews including ORF Radio (Vienna), Arte (Paris), Countdown with Keith Olbermann, NPR, Wired, Associated Press, TV Tokyo, Science Channel, and The Discovery Channel. Its extensive nine year exhibition history includes shows in Russia, Ireland, USA, Canada, and Austria, with appearances at SIGGRAPH, STRP Festival, Ars Electronica, Machine Project, Beall Center for Art & Technology, InterAccess and Art Moscow. For more information on the project, see


Cockroach Controlled Mobile Robot (2006)

Garnet Hertz's Vimeo Channel

Garnet Hertz's YouTube Channel