new research, part 2: a case against robots (…?)
like I said in my previous post, I’ve been thinking about robotics as a production model for new ideas on cyborg prostheses, bodies, auto-mechanical instruments, etc. I’ve also been thinking about robots theoretically, and how they may be conceptually in opposition to the cyborg.
I first started to problematize robots back in November 2009 after watching the Vanguard documentary Remote Control War – exploring the current trends in military robotic technology. this led me to think about robots as this tool, these bodies of military + industrial capability. recently I came back to this idea, wondering how to locate the robot in terms of systems of power. the origins for the term robot is Czech – robota – meaning labor and work, but with the implications of serf, or slave, labor. Hegel’s master-slave dialectic would tell us that robots are these things that mediate labor and further distance the operator from the body. these robotic drones are operated by soldiers trained on video game systems, and the violence of war, the violence of the body, is abstracted and removed from the operator’s embodied experience. watching Iron Man 2 last night, Robin made the comment that war doesn’t really exist without killing – and I began to imagine scenarios where two opposing sides enter armed conflict against each other. instead of human soldiers, the fighting takes place between armed drones and killer robots. I’ve heard the argument that this future of war is preferable, because there’s no loss of life. but, when capitalism produces an endless supply of robotic soldiers, there’s nothing at stake, and the war could never end.
of course cyborgs are also a product of capitalism and the military, but rather than using technology to further remove and mediate the body’s experience, I wonder if the cyborg’s use of technology allows for creatively exploring new possibilities of embodiment. in other words, the cyborgian body opens up possibilities for hyper-abilities, while the robot immediately disallows any exploration and creative use of the body.
so I’m wondering how to negotiate this position in the studio and when navigating an art community (esp. new media) that seems to value (I won’t quite say fetishize) the robot-as-art-(maker.) on one hand, I’m enthusiastic and actually really like folks like Eric Singer + LEMUR, and there’s no doubt any of the hackers making graffiti-bots have any military or capitalist intentions. I’m also the last person to have any vested agendas in any sort of artist’s-hand-gestural-mark-making-purity; that kind of old-and-new sincerity snake oil doesn’t have any currency in my studio. No – I’m wondering if there’s something to be hacked and subverted from robotics, applying to the body in order to instigate creative ideas outside a tired man/machine dichotomy.
well, I’ll let you know how well that turns out for me…
This entry was posted on Thursday, September 16th, 2010 at 07:44PM
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.