More Questions…

It was great seeing everyone’s project. Everyone had such unique ideas which deserved more time. I felt like with the allotted time, it was hard not to want to read off a concise script to cram in as much information as possible (which I did)!

A large portion of presentations focused on robotics. Most of the robotic projects, with the exception of the robots creating paintings from noise/music, directly functioned to benefit humans. This isn’t a critique but merely an observation. Someone in class proposed an invention where a robot would be the size of a Rubik’s cube and would hover and follow you. This genre of “carebots” or “therapeutic robots” really grabbed my interest. With some quick research, I found Omo, a relational object by Kelly Dobson. Omo senses the breathing of anyone interacting with it, and tries to match or start a new pattern of breathing. This brings about discussion to the psychological and social relationship between humans and machines and the possibility of machine therapy. In a similar project by Paula Gaetano, an artist from Buenos Aires, created a robot that deals with Alexithymia—the inability to verbalize emotions and instead, sweating when wanting to communicate. Shown in the exhibition Bios4, the viewers were allowed to interact with the robot which was a large rubber blob. When sensing touch, the robot would emit water from a hidden tank and appear to be sweating. Both projects demonstrate a desire to blend the scientific and artistic realm. In the case of Paula Gaetano’s work, it “[reconciles] the ‘wet’ domain of nature with the ‘dry’ domain of electronics”.

Reflecting on the different projects presented, I can genuinely consider them all art, regardless if one project if purely functional and another abstract and conceptual. They are all art in the general sense; art which stimulates the senses and mind. While I agree that art is very subjective, how do I begin to appropriately critique this art (art, science, and technology)? If a technological invention and a fine art painting relate to different sets of standards and precedents, then how can they exist in the same realm? Even if with projects like Omo, where the lines of science, technology, and art are blurred, I still find myself evaluating it in terms of artistic and scientific distinctions. How am I suppose to break this cycle of thinking?

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