Week 3: Robotics and Technology in the Artistic world by Brandon Aust

This week’s discussion on robots and science in modern art really got my attention. Especially when we discussed the science that is present in movies. I find it interesting that with every new discovery in science, movies, books, and other forms of art are released about the subject, and a large majority of this art released has to do with what could go horribly wrong with the new discoveries or ideas. The human mind fears the unknown which is what this art form thrives upon. A few titles that relied on this sense of fear of science include The Day the Earth Stood Still, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, The Fly, War of the Worlds, 1984, Brave New World, Jurassic Park, and Metropolis. All of these were influenced by scientific concepts such as space exploration, cloning, time travel, and increase of technology. The Terminator series goes very deep into the ideas of science in order to intrigue and scare people. The movie employs both the ideas of technology and time travel to put an end to human existence.  The movie serves as a kind of warning to humans to recognize that we must monitor what we create because at a certain point our creations may destroy us. In the movie, the human race begins to put its security in the hands of a machine system called Skynet which soon develops a mind of its own and attempts to kill all human life (thus the initial scare of technology). When this initial attempt fails, a group of human resistance bans together under John Connor to fight back against the machines. The idea of time travel is thus introduced as machines are sent back to kill off the Connor family at different points of their existence in order to stop the resistance from ever happening. This idea alone greatly intrigues the human mind on the concept of what time is—a notion we discussed in terms of time being the fourth dimension. It brings rise to such questions as: Is time linear? Can the future be changed? and if so what effects would these changes have on the world? This concept of changing the future is a huge part of the movie series Back to the Future. Although this is a more light-hearted tale of the scientific ideas, it still provokes a lot of questions about the linearity of time and if different actions cause different time lines to fork off—which then brings about questions of alternate dimensions in time. So although these movies are meant as entertainment, they are indeed art in the way that they provoke these thoughts in the human mind. They also are a vision of the creator’s message put onto the screen which is indeed very artistic since all art is based on its creator’s message.
terminator Another place where this kind of technology is put in the form of art is in themed entertainment. Theme parks such as Disneyland use a wide variety of technology to thrill guests and put them in surroundings that are different from their own daily lives. The technology is used to create such an engaging atmosphere that the guest is supposed to believe that they are actually; say, in space or in the jungle. They use robots in the form of audio animatronics in order to create such an atmosphere. The technology was first created using reel-to-reel magnetic audio tapes which sent an electric signal to the robot which would create a reaction (hence the term audio animatronics). It is now done using computers which send the electric signal—each signal acting as if it were a single drawing in a sequence of animation. Now, the technology has advanced to create robots that can run on real time as though they were puppets, so that these robots can interact with people. This was done with the walk around Wall-E character that traveled the globe to promote the movie.

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I believe that as technology continues to improve, there will be increasingly more ways for artists to get their messages out there in more innovative ways. Forms of art alone have increased throughout the years to include paintings, sculptures, graphic art, books, television, and movies. With aided technologies such as the internet, consumers can now view art all the time within the comfort of their homes. This makes it easier for visionaries and artists to get their messages out there and allow the human mind to ask questions about what is going on around them.

-Brandon Aust

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