From biblical to modern times the allure of the desert has resided in the fact we go there not knowing what we are looking for or what we may find. It’s a place where imagination and skepticism cohabit, where UFO’s and endangered Bighorn Sheep are sighted with near equal frequency. Drawing on the connection between the ancient and the modern, the silica desert and Silicon valley, Norma Jeane has, in conjunction with San Francisco based Codame created an autonomous robotic vehicle programmed to roam the desert while avoiding all human contact. Like many things of the desert it is both everywhere and nowhere, a form of artificial intelligence programmed not to serve but to avoid. Like the first settlers who first encountered these harsh conditions its primary motivation is survival driven by fear discovery. An elusive creature the timid robot represents perhaps the part of us that we are all seeking but cannot find.

Shybot was originally released to roam the desert of the Coachella Valley during Desert X 2017. Soon after the opening of the exhibition, she was lost and her GPS was no longer transmitting. A billboard campaign sprang up along Southern California highways stating, “Shybot wanted: battery dead or alive.” One and a half years later, a local of the valley discovered Shybot relatively unscathed while off-roading in the desert and returned her back to Desert X. For the 2019 edition, Shybot has been fixed up and re-released to continue the journey she had only just begun in the inaugural exhibition.

Scene with ShyBot is curated by Marina Pugliese and Dena Beard and is a collaboration between The Lab and the IIC (Italian Cultural Institute - San Francisco) with support of Desert X and CODAME ART+TECH.

Scene with ShyBot is part of the project Mapping the City.



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