A Garden of Machines: human/technological entanglement and the emergence of robotic art
Panel:Panel B (Paper session)
Venue:Stockholm School of Economics
This paper proposes that robotic art – art understood as both computational and situated in space, frequently involving interactive and networked elements – is emerging as the product of a re-negotiated/renewed relationship between the spheres of art, urban design, and popular entertainment. Drawing on actor-network theory, Chris Salter uses the term “entanglement” to designate the way human and technological beings function as co-performers and relational entities both in art practice and in culture at large. This agential interpretation of technology brings a new perspective to our relationship with the designed object, and with the art object in particular. In this context, to what extent does the increasing ubiquity of human/technological entanglement allow us to envision a paradigm shift in our understanding of art’s role – no longer as an autonomous sphere interfacing with a wider social context but as a co-participant in the social day-to-day? Robotic art’s emphasis on situational technological experiences effectively puts it at the forefront of the digital transformation of the lived environment also heralded by developments such as ubiquitous computing, urban screens and interactive/responsive architecture. By thus potentially re-imagining urban space, robotic art not only participates in an ideal of “total art” as envisioned by Fluxus and the Situationists, but also joins in an aesthetic popular tradition that includes the spectacular entertainments of the 19th century (Angela Ndalianis, Vanessa Schwartz) as well as picturesque and ornamental art (Lars Spuybroek). The work of artists Ken Goldberg, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and Anne Hamilton serve to anchor this discussion.
Lauren Fenton is an emerging interactive artist, media scholar and Ph.D. candidate in Media Arts and Practice at the University of Southern California. Her work re-imagines the digital everyday as a network of sensual poetic agencies by critically engaging the nascent epistemologies of immersive computing, personal robotics and expanded cinema. Her work includes an electronic cabinet of curiosities The Book of Luna with Clea. T. Waite, an interactive museum exhibit in partnership with the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Los Angeles, a cinematic exquisite corpse Flash game, and a sound art piece with inflatable furniture. Her dissertation, Polyangylene, is a polymedia installation in which a network of biomorphic robots collaborate with visitors to control different animated visual and textual narratives, which are then projected and mapped onto a sculpture of found objects.