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Naifei Wu Project Storyteller May- August 2017 Artist-in-Residence @ Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator in collaboration with EIGEN + ART Lab

Project Storyteller Do you have a favorite spot in Berlin? A place where you had unforgettable memories? A street corner where you bumped into luck and inspiration? Or a space loaded with sorrow and regret? Berlin is a city not only rich in shared histories but also full of colorful personal stories. It never bores me. Its vibrant energy fascinates me, for I know that there are captivating narratives to each street corner, each alley, each square and even to the most banal scenes. In the project Storyteller, people are invited to share stories about places that are meaningful to them in Berlin. Interactive robots, as embodiments of the participants, would be installed at these locations to tell their stories when people walk by. In their mechanic monotonous voices, I hope the passersby would enjoy the beauty of each story as I do, as well as the fun of “treasure-hunting� and interacting with the robots.


Conception WHY STORIES I always love stories. As I started traveling more and more, what makes a place interesting, for me, entails not only dazzling spectacles, tourist attractions, natural landscapes, but also personal encounters -- be it human traces that reveal a certain narrative or the stories of people themselves. Stories make physical spaces personal. They emit an intimate atmosphere that ties me to the very place and echoes in my memories . For me, London gradually became a mixture of the Sunday morning walk with Ying near Dalston market, the afternoon picnics next to Tate Britain, 50 conversations with strangers at the Trafagar Square, and the early morning adventure at billingsgate market. Berlin, too, slowly forms a nice blend of Anna’s crazy story in the 70s when she drove to North Africa for love, the piece of fabric from Christoph’s “Wrapped Reichstag”-- a gift from Carola, and the midnight walk with Zacharias from Rathaus Steglitz to Dahlmer Weg. When I think of a place, the people there, and my shared memories with them, gently brush the shore of memory with caressing waves. Starting from my fascination of stories, the idea of recruiting people’s memories about different physical locations began to come into shape. And I know I will love their stories, beyond doubt.

WHY ROBOTS In my previous work The Diary, 180 diary entries from The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath were read by google translate sound system. As text-to-speech service starts to be more common in many fields, scientists dedicate to make its functioning algorithm better and closer

to how human articulate language. What interests me the most is the suprasegmental aspects of the phonology— stress, intonation, pause, tone, which are closely related to complicated and subtle emotional expressions of human beings. How does artificial intelligence understand and pronounce words when they read? And how would they feel if they are actually feeling the emotion behind the words? Following the project, I started to develop Storyteller, in which I create robots to tell site specific stories provided by participants in Berlin, using too Text-to-speech technique and chatbot interfaces. When the audience walks by, the robot is triggered. She/he would then start talking, allowing the audience to know the story behind her/him interactively. In so doing, I attempt to address the aforementioned issues, the human-bot relation, as well as the interplay between art and technology in our contemporary era.

WHY A LOT OF ROBOTS IN DIFFERENT PHYSICAL LOCATIONS The physicality of the story is crutial to this project. I would like the audience to experience the work by treasure hunt to find all the robots in the city,


Execution 1. RECRUITING PARTICIPANTS Small paper ads are posted in Berlin at 40 U-bahn stations, inviting people to participate. People who are interested could submit their stories via the link on the ad. The selection of the stories depends on random-generating results 2. LISTENING TO THE STORIES The selected participant takes me to the place and tells me the story there. The story would be recorded and transcribed into texts. A conversational chatbot would be created based on the story. 3. MAKING THE ROBOTS The robot, as the embodiment of the person who shares the story, will be installed at the place where the story happened. Each robot would bear personal traits of the participant. Once people walk by, it would start talking and interacting with the audience, allowing the audience to get to know the place, the story, and the person.

1. Recruiting Participants

PAPER ADS AND GOOGLE FORMS The recruiting message is only distributed in the form of physical paper advertisements. Small paper ads are both in English and in German. The link or the QR code on the ad leads to a google form. Anyone interested in taking part in the project could use the form to submit their story. Out of 85 U-bahn stations within the Ring (not including the ones on the Ring), a computer generator randomly chose 40 stations for the advertisements.

Counting the stations within the Ring (not including the ones on the Ring)


Mierendorffplatz Richard-Wagner-Platz Bismarckstraße Wilmersdorfer Straße Adenauerplatz Konstanzer Straße Fehrbelliner Platz Blissestraße Berliner Straße Bayerischer Platz Eisenacher Straße Kleistpark Yorkstraße Möckernbrücke Mehringdamm Gneisenaustraße Südstern Hermannplatz Rathaus Neukölln Karl-Marx-Straße Sophie-Charlotte-Platz Deutsche Oper

Ernst-Reuter-Platz Zoologischer Garten Wittenbergplatz Nollendorfplatz Bülowstraße Gleisdreieck Mendelssohn-Bartholdy-Park Potsdamer Platz Mohrenstraße Stadtmitte Hausvogteiplatz Spittelmarkt Märkisches Museum Klosterstraße Alexanderplatz Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz Senefelderplatz Eberswalder Straße Uhlandstraße Kurfürstendamm Kurfürstenstraße Hallesches Tor

Prinzenstraße KottbusserTor Görlitzer Bhf Schlesisches Tor Warschauer Straße Hohenzollernplatz Spichernstraße Augsburger Straße Rathaus Schöneberg Viktoria-Luise-Platz Schillingstraße Strausberger Platz Weberwiese Frankenfurter Tor Samariterstraße Reinichendorfer Straße Schwartzkopffstraße Naturkundemuseum Oranierburger Tor Friedrichstraße Französische Straße Kochstraße

Platz der Lufbrücke Paradestraße Voltastraße Bernauer Straße Rosenthaler Platz Weinmeinsterstraße Jannowitzbrücke Heinrich-Heine-Straße Moritzplatz, Schönleinstraße Boddinstraße Leinestraße Birkenstraße Turmstraße Hansaplatz Güntzelstraße Hauptbahnhof Bundestag Brandenburger Tor

Documentations of ads posted in the U-bahn stations

2. Listening to the story at the place

Going to Hasenheide 54 with Laura and listening to her story at the place

3. Making the robots

Using Raspberry Pi as the brain of the robot

RECORDING, TRANSCRIBING, AND MAKING THE INTERACTIVE STORYLINE Stories are recorded and transcribed, and then later made into an interactive storyline. Based on the storyline, a chatbot is created. The chatbot serves as the main interactive function once installed on the robot.

The python code that is used on Raspberry Pi to run the robot

Lasercutting and assembling the parts

Testing the installation at outdoor places

From Conception to Execution AN INCOMPLETE PROJECT Originally, I would like to make 100 robots, if 100 people share their stories with me. The mapping of stories in a big scale, using talking robots, is more than important to this project. The collaborative experiences between me and each single participant, as well as the shared moments between the audience and the robots, for me, could be truly powerful and beautiful. Due to the limited amount of time, budget, and legal regulations, I wasn’t able to complete it before finishing the program. I would therefore see it as a pilot project, not as an end but a beginning of a new chapter waiting to be developed and fulfilled.

Naifei Wu Project Storyteller May- August 2017 Artist-in-Residence @ Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator in collaboration with EIGEN + ART Lab

The Storyteller  

Participatory projects, sound and light installation, dimension variable, 2017 In collaboration with Yiu-Chang Lin (林佑蒼) and Robin Hsieh (謝宗...

The Storyteller  

Participatory projects, sound and light installation, dimension variable, 2017 In collaboration with Yiu-Chang Lin (林佑蒼) and Robin Hsieh (謝宗...