Survival Research Laboratories


Survival Research Laboratories (SRL) is a machine performance art group credited for pioneering the genre of large-scale machine performance. After about 30 years in San Francisco, California, SRL spent most of 2008 moving to Petaluma, California. Since its inception in 1978 SRL has operated as an organization of creative technicians and technical creatives dedicated to re-directing the techniques, tools, and tenets of industry, science, and the military away from their typical manifestations in practicality, product or warfare. Read More


“I’m interested in intense things and I’m interested in taking things as far as they can possibly go, within the limitations of physics on the one hand, and the limitations of human beings on the other.” Mark Pauline
SRL’s website

Here are two videos of SRL’s work:


2 Responses to “Survival Research Laboratories”

  1. Loudon Says:

    There is a playfullness to this that is undeniable, playfulness on a huge scale. It is as if a child playing with legos grows up never stopping, somehow that play becomes art. The physical danger is added, I watch this and have a real fear, that would be obviously magnified if seeing this in person. As a spectator I would be fearful of my life, do I trust these children with big destructive toys won’t kill me? I love that it presents a unique spectator experience. Instead of having fear as a intellectual exercise(engaging mirror neurons and “feeling” for an onscreen actor) the audience has fear directly. Additionally, I wonder if the audience can be made to feel sympathy for the robots and their plight. I can feel myself wishing they could escape the control of the operator. I would be interested to see one of these performances hosted where the robots rise up against the controllers. It could be staged by having actors play the roles of controlling the robots and hiding the actual ones controlling the robots. They seem to be wanting to highlight the humanness of the robots by making them interact with each other and with the leftovers of humans. Maybe by having the robots aware of their actual position as puppets we could humanize them even more…

  2. Augmentationist Interanational Says:

    And the danger is very real. As the legend goes, Mark Pauline blew half his hand off years ago. I had the honor of shaking his half-hand at a talk he gave about the Spine Robot at Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA), in San Francisco last year.

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