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Al-Jazari was an influential scholar and engineer who lived at the beginning of the 13th century, this project was inspired by his robot musicians who were designed to play at royal drinking parties. More info

Live coding is the art of programming in front of an audience. Screens are projected in order to display the entire process to the audience, thus making computer based performances more interesting and inclusive. More info

Al-Jazari is livecoded entirely by gamepad, and employs a simple graphical language to allow robots to interact with each other and move over a terrain populated by audio triggers. The running code is displayed and edited in thought bubbles over each robot. For upcoming performance dates see this page.

Al Jazari Installation

In the summer of 2008 an installation version of Al-Jazari was commissioned for the Seville Biennial to be shown in the Palace of Charles V, in the Alhambra, Granada. This version was designed for 4 people to play at once, with a simplified instruction set. During the course of the exhibition, 45,307 visitors were recorded.

A few months later the installation was also exhibited as part of Make Art 2008 in Poitiers, France.

Installation statement text
Installation Room Plan Installation Instructions
Running Al Jazari

More inspiration for this project come from:
* BetaBlocker, Al-Jazari's gamepad powered predecessor
* Gullibloon's Army of Darkness
* The Sims (visible thoughts in speech bubbles)
* Spring Alpha, a live coding game

The development images - from sketchbook ideas to first performance.

Technical Details

The language consists of instructions to move and turn the robot, along with conditionals based on the external state (blocked, robot to my left, right etc) and jump instructions to switch between 4 seperate code states. A simple signalling system to allow the bots to communicate is also included.

Al-Jazari is written entirely in Scheme, and runs on Fluxus which is a small game/graphical engine which runs on Linux and OSX.

All code, models and textures used for Al-Jazari are released as free software. However, it is not designed as a finished piece of software, so setting it up involves various custom programs to be compiled and installed. See the Al-Jazari wiki page for more information.


Flash version

The flash version (written in haxe) can be played here, or on facebook!