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Professor Mari Velonaki

Professor Mari Velonaki


Professor Mari Velonaki is Director of the Creative Robotics Lab and is lead chief investigator in an ARC LIEF Grant which has led to the development of the multi-institutional National Facility for Human Robot Interaction, in partnership with CSE UNSW, School of Psychology, UNSW, ACFR, USyd, Centre for Autonmous Systems, UTS and St Vincent's Hospital. She has worked as an artist and researcher in the field of interactive installation art since 1995. Velonaki has created interactive installations that incorporate movement, speech, touch, breath, electrostatic charge, artificial vision and robotics. In 2003, Velonaki's practice expanded to robotics, when she initiated and led a major Australian Research Council art/science research project "Fish-Bird: Autonomous Interactions in a Contemporary Arts Setting" in collaboration with robotics scientists at the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR, University of Sydney). In 2007, Velonaki was awarded an Australia Council for the Arts Visual Arts Fellowship, and in 2009 she was awarded an ARC Australian Research Fellowship. She was promoted to full Professor in early 2017.

Velonaki’s artworks have been exhibited worldwide, including:

  • Victoria & Albert Museum, London—with which Velonaki maintains a working partnership
  • National Art Museum Beijing
  • Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, Korea
  • ZENDAI Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai
  • Wood Street Galleries, Pittsburgh
  • Millennium Museum - Beijing Biennale of Electronic Art
  • Ars Electronica, Linz
  • Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art
  • Conde Duque Museum, Madrid
  • European Media Arts Festival, Osnabrück
  • Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand
  • Arco, Madrid
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
  • Queensland Art Gallery/GOMA
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales
  • Ton-Build-Spektakel, Zurich
  • Aros Aarhus Museum of Modern Art, Denmark.

In 2006, Velonaki co-founded, with Dr David Rye at the ACFR, the Centre for Social Robotics (CSR)—a centre dedicated to interdisciplinary research into human-robot interaction in spaces that incorporate the general public. Velonaki is also the Director of the recently established Creative Robotics Lab (CRL) at NIEA. The CRL provides a cross-disciplinary research environment dedicated to understanding how humans can interact with mechanical and robotic devices within the context of experimental arts and social robotics. Through her transdisciplinary artistic practice and research roles at UNSW and the University of Sydney, Velonaki has established valuable working partnerships with a number of internationally leading robotics, cognitive science and engineering scientists and institutions. 

Current appointment(s)

Director, Creative Robotics Lab
Co-Director, Centre for Social Robotics
Associate Professor, NIEA, COFA, UNSW
Adjunct Associate Professor, Australian Centre for Field Robotics, USYD

Research areas