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The COLLOQUY 2018 Project will reproduce Gordon Pask’s seminal interactive gallery work, COLLOQUY OF MOBILES, originally created for the ground-breaking exhibit CYBERNETIC SERENDIPITY at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 1968. COLLOQUY OF MOBILES comprises sculptural figures that move and interact through light and sound, with each other and with the public.

In 1968 COLLOQUY OF MOBILES explored the nature of machine-to-machine and person-to-machine conversations in an interactive, immersive environment, perhaps the first of its kind. Frequently praised for its originality and influence, Pask’s work is a precursor to practices of contemporary art and design, such as relational aesthetics, social practice, intermedia, user experience/interaction design, and human-machine interaction.





Female bodies

Female bodies: Represents three females, each consisting of


  1. A mirror that moves upwards and downwards

  2. Light/photo sensor that receives the u light from the male’s lamp

  3. Sound sensor and sound source


Male bodies

Represents 2 males, each consisting of:


  1. Lamp (functions as both the u and B light)

  2. Light/photosensors that receive the reflected lights from female

  3. Sound sensor, and sound source above the lamp

  4. Receptors C & D (C above the lamp and D below the lamp)




Drive:  A goal to be achieved by male & female, presented as O & P


The color of lights: Represents drive of female and male:

  1. Orange light: Represents O drive
  2. Puce light: Represents P drive


The Lamp: Projecting u light & B light for different purposes


u light: Comes from a lamp installed on the male body

  1. Represents the type of drive of the male only

  2. Acts as a blinking signal for initiating interaction between male and female


B light: Comes from the same lamp as u light, installed on the male body

  1. Represents the ongoing search of the male for the female by blinking

  2. Represents the agreement between the male and the female for having the same drive by remaining constant [stops blinking]


C & D Receptors: C & D receptors are the points where satisfaction of the drives can occur if female’s mirror reflects B light back to C or D


Movement of mobiles:

  1. Females rotation around self for 90º – clockwise & anticlockwise – limited to 90º

  2. Each male rotates around self for 180º & 2 males rotate 360º together connected by the bar


Reinforcing encounter (satisfying a drive): A process whereby the drives of males and females become satisfied, through male-female interactions. Reinforcement occurs when female and male:

  1. Are face-to-face
  2. Have the same drive mode

  3. Female’s mirrors reflect back the B light at the right receptors – either the C or D receptor — which adds to the level of satisfaction (C/O or D/P)


If reinforcement occurs for a period of time, satisfaction can be reached, defined as the when the level of drive (O or P) goes above a predefined (parameterized, arbitrary) level.


Unreinforced encounter (not satisfying a drive):  

Occurs when the male and female are face-to-face but:

  1. Don’t have the same drive mode
  2. Female’s mirrors do not reflect back the B light to the right receptors (C or D receptors) [no matter if they have the same drive mode]


Female’s angular-satisfaction short-term memory: When the signal from the male indicates satisfaction (sound), the female remembers the angular position of her mirror and uses that memory for the next encounter




Premises: (initial conditions: there is no female memory; male and female have same drive and reinforcement occurs; F1’s drive “O” starts at X)

  1. The male G has an “O” drive and needs to locate a female that has the same drive.

  2. Male G rotates on its own axis across 180º and two males rotate across 360º. The u light is flashing.

  3. Females are currently rotating 90º on their own axes.

  4. During this rotation, Male G happens come across Female F1 and all of their components (sensors, lights, mirror) face each other for a fraction of seconds.

  5. Male G is always flashing his u light which happens to fall on the photosensor ‘a’ of F1, which causes F1 to stop. The frequency of the flashing u light will convey the drive of male G – which is O –  to F1.
    The following happens in a split of second…

    a. F1 compares if her drive (“O”) matches male G’s drive, based on the frequency of flashing of G’s light u (which is signaling “O”).
    b. Male G has the sound sensor which is always active.
    c. F1 confirms that her drive is aligned with male G’s drive, and then she signals this by producing a synchronized sound through the sound source.

  6. Female starts her vertical mirror rotation.

  7. Male G receives the sound, and his u light becomes B light, which is the constant light.

  8. B light falls on the a receptor of F1 and stops her vertical motor search once it senses that the light has become constant.

  9. F1’s mirror stops at the upper angle and hits the C receptor, and reinforcement starts to occur.

  10. Male G’s “O” drive becomes satisfied when the reflection of the B light hits the C receptor. (assuming there is a delay of x seconds)

  11. This is when Male G creates a sound and ends the reinforcement.


12. F1 receives the sound, indicating the reinforcement succeeded and lowers her “O” drive by 1 point.

13. F1 consequently places the mirror angle into short-term memory.

14. They part ways — they rotate again in their original direction.







Colloquy of Mobiles physical model-making specifications

Working documents for designing and

replicating Colloquy



Colloquy of Mobiles 2018 Project



Paper written in April 2018 describing

the process to-date


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