How apt that we are looking at the idea of robots/cyborgs this week – the 2014 reboot (no pun intended) of Robocop just opened here over the weekend.
It is of course just one of many movies in recent years that deal with the idea of robots/cyborgs – think Transformers, Pacific Rim, Iron Man , Wall-E and yes, I, Frankenstein (some robots deserve to be shut down. But I digress).
As we move in the future, the use of machines to augment and further expand our capabilities beyond physical, time and spatial limits would be something that will likely more increasingly common in our daily lives.
Heck, even Amazon is looking to make robot dropships for your online shopping. It’s not the FedEx man at the door no more, it’s a friggin’ robot.
Will our future burn in chaos ala Terminator? Or will we tame A.I. to do our bidding and live happily ever after?
(Is it any wonder that overwhelmingly, most works predict a future closer to the former? Yeah, we’ll chalk it down to having a dramatic arc. *gulp*)
So we turn our eye (Comd – left, right, left, left, centre, please!) to a group called Kraftwerk from Germany. Yes THAT Kraftwerk. The Beatles of the cybernetic world, crisscrossing the Abbey Road of the information superhighway since the 70’s . If you listen to electronic music, you can be pretty sure you can track some form of influence back to these German lads. They are that big.
Through their music and performative elements, they heralded in our digital/electronic age and playing off the themes of man and machine coming together as one.
But I can’t help but notice a sense of irony here (and I guess this applies somewhat to the works by other groups/artists dealing with the whole man/machine conundrum) – that the work is created, and very much appreciated, by humans.
Making and enjoying music (art) is such a hallmark human activity. I don’t think we can ever teach a robot to truly enjoy music like we instinctively do. It is the space in between the beats and the melodies that we exist in, the energy we feel coming through the sound waves that make listening to music a very real experience.
So, as much as we would like to get away from the “human-ness” by playing up the clinical, hard ideas of a robotic future, we cannot deny the underlying human touch when it comes to artmaking and art appreciation. In ways, dabbling with the notions of cyborgs/robots is dealing with yet another aspect or facade of human nature/culture, albeit one perhaps mother nature did not intend.
I guess, my sentiment at this point is that humans make art for other humans. That’s the “why” we can’t escape from.
The “how” and the “what”? Well, that’s where the fun begins.
And oh while we’re at it, can someone send a message to the future? We don’t need a John Connor to save us no more.
Now, can we just dance? 😉
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(I shall close this entry with a personal note)
Close Encounter of the Robotic Kind (or How I Had A Close Brush with Kraftwerk)
When I realised that Kraftwerk was part of the group of artists we are looking at for Week 4, I was excited. No, make that EXCITED.
Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of Kraftwerk around but I definitely recognise the group for their seminal sound and their ideas of melding visuals and a performative elements to deliver a singular experience that makes Kraftwerk, well, Kraftwerk.
I had the chance to photograph their performance here in Singapore last year when they brought their 3D concert to our sunny shores. In a bid to hopefully capture some stereoscopic images of the concert, I also traded emails with Falk Grieffenhagen – one of the current members of the group – who offered some information and advice on their 3D setup (alas I had to settle on 2D imaging without resorting to extensive dual camera setups).
Still, it was a great experience and something I will remember in years to come.