Posts Tagged ‘self-alienation’

Week 3_Robotics, Art, and Self-alienation(?)_Wenjing Wu

Monday, January 26th, 2009

There might not be some significant correlations among the three key words in this blog. But they are really interesting points on which I want to share my thoughts with everyone.


Many times I found my knowledge of a known object was both limited and ambiguous until I was motivated to do some research on it. The concept of “robot” occurs to me exactly in this way. I couldn’t name the major characteristics of a robot that distinguish it from a machine before I GWY(google, wikipedia, youtube) it and understand that the most important trait for a robot is being able to make direct decisions in reaction of the environment on its own( That’s why I take Goldberg’s Telegarden as a machine combined with the Internet rather than a robot). Technology nowadays has reached such a height that robots become successful mimicry of human intelligence and function. The video Prof. Vesna showed us featuring a robot imitating a lady’s facial expression was really impressive. As for the concern of intelligent yet inhumane robots losing control and taking over the human world, I’m optimistic mainly because I believe in Issac Asimov’s Tree Law of Robotics, the core of which is that a robot will never injure a human being or leave him/her vulnerable. The designer should be and will be very careful not to break the laws.


There are a number of art works related to Robotics including “Exot” from Monochrom, an international art-technology-philosophy group. Exot is a tele-robot remotely controlled via a web-interface/chat forum. As for virtual form of Robotics, I found a cool link on the course website—Joseph Delappe. I visited his cardboard sculpture of Gandhi on Third Guangzhou Triennial at the Guangdong Museum of Art in November, 2008. The sculpture is based on his online and treadmill powered reenactment of Mahatma Gandhi’s “Salt March to Dandi” in Second Life from March 12th through April 6th, 2008. Delappe walked on a treadmill for 26 days to reenact Gandhi’s Salt March in SL and there he met all kinds of people(or their virtual compartment) and obtained art inspiration from this “journey”. This is another interesting way of communicating with people in virtual world.


Video:Treadmill Powered Gandhi in Second Life

In the end of Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, which mourned on the jeopardizing of original art work’s aura, he wrote: Its(Mankind’s) self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. However, Douglas Davis cast doubt to this opinion and raised several examples to illustrate the aura “resides not in the thing itself but in the originality of the moment when we see, hear, read, repeat, revise”, therefore it would never be impaired by its technical or digital copies. The era of technology and digitalization didn’t turn everyone into allienated and inhumane monsters. In my view, on the contrary, works such as the “Reenactment of Salt March in Second Life” and “Telegarden” endowed people with spiritual refreshment that communication and pacing down are what they need in the real life.