Robots: Evolution of a Cultural Icon examines the development of
robot iconography in fine art over the past 50 years. In 1920, the term
robot was coined from a Czech word robota, which means tedious
labor. Since then, the image and the idea of a robot have evolved
remarkably from an awkward, mechanical creature to a sophisticated
android with artificial intelligence and the potential for human-like
consciousness. As robotic technology catches up with the wild
imagination of science fiction novels, movies, and animation, dreams
and fears anticipated in these stories may also become reality. Artists
included in the exhibition have responded to the technological
innovation with optimism, pessimism, and humor, presenting work that
ultimately explores our ambivalent attitudes towards robots.
The exhibition features sculptures, paintings, photographs, digital
media, and installations created by more than 20 artists. While some
artists meticulously create portraits or representational sculptures of
robots, others address a range of social and cultural issues through
robot iconography. For example, in The Battle of Twin Palms (2004), Jeff Soto comments on mankind�s adverse effect on the
environment by depicting warfare between biomechanical creatures. Gail
Wight\'s Star StruckMetropolis (1927) on his little TV. The floor is littered with crumpled Kleenex and the robot is sobbing, his body convulsing. Lang\'s Metropolis,
the first true masterpiece of science fiction in film, is about a
futuristic city and its Marxist heroine, a female robot, who comes to a
Despite the exhibition�s seemingly lighthearted
appearance, the artists demonstrate the serious implications posed by
new technology and our physically disconnected contemporary lifestyle.
Both nostalgic and futuristic, the exhibition provides visual
reflection on the technological advancements that are fast becoming an
essential part of our civilization.
Robots artists: Clayton Bailey, Chris
Cunningham, Feric, Nemo Gould, Amy Hicks, Eric Joyner, Chico
MacMurtrie, Mars-1, Michael McMillen, Michael Mew, David Pace, Nam June
Paik, Alan Rath, Michael A. Salter, Lisa Solomon, Jeff Soto, Jason Van
Anden, H.C. Westermann, Gail Wight, Kow Yokoyama, and Thomas Zummer.
The exhibition is curated by SJMA senior curator JoAnne Northrup.