Mechanical dancer a life work

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman, the Perth artist behind the robotic "pineapple" sculpture outside Perth Arena, is close to completing another grand obsession - a robot ballerina.

Modelled and programmed on the body and moves of WA Ballet principal artist Jayne Smeulders, the robot is the first of what Drake-Brockman intends to be a troupe of four cyber dancers.

The Coppelia Project is inspired by the 1870 ballet Coppelia about a clockwork girl and is one of his art projects looking at how humans interact with machines.

The four ballerinas will have a robotic skeleton inside a fibreglass shell that allows them to dance en pointe.

Drake-Brockman said the robots were spooky and beautiful, like big ballerina music boxes.

"I want to create the tension between the familiar and attractive and the disquieting, other reality of cyborgs and created beings," he said.

"By dealing with robots at an artistic level, we can better work out how we feel about them."

The first robot will give a dance at the artist's Nedlands studio as part of a 19th-century Paris-themed salon evening on May 10.

Drake-Brockman began the project seven years ago. He is using the crowdfunding site IndieGoGo.com to raise nearly $33,000 to complete the ballerinas next year for an exhibition and a ballet for human and robot dancers.

Drake-Brockman's work includes Floribots, a collection of 128 motion-sensing robotic potted flowers and a yellow walk-through "people counter" at Sculpture by the Sea in 2011.

The West Australian

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