PaCo, the robot-poet in a wheelchair

Spansih artists Carlos Corpa and Ana María García Serrano got a third prize at the Art & Artificial Life International Competition for PaCo.

Unable to walk, the robot moves slowly around in a wheel chair. He seeks out humans to ask for money in exchange for a poem.

When he meets someone, he communicates via a message on his “head screen”, raises an arm holding a moneybox, which it thrusts to the “client”. When a coin is deposited, PaCo automatically reads out a poem generated by a specific software. A hardcopy is also made from a printer on his chest to complete and reinforce the economic transaction.


The robot and his actions are viewable via web and people online can write words that will “inspire” the poetic process.

Corpa studies the relashionship between humans and machines. Are we more likely to give money to a machine that sprouts poetry rather than the person the machine has replaced? The ‘replacement’ does not smell or spit when it speaks. But it is not a shiny neat precision-made machine. It is haphazardly made from bits of discarded material. In its attempts to be decrepit we question its motivation to ask for money. Do we feel sorry for it? Or are we charmed and entertained?

Photo El Mundo.