Following the horrors of World War Two, the people of America looked to the future by proclaiming a new age of science and wonder. “Cities of the Future” exhibitions were held all over the country as the advertising companies beckoned the peoples imaginations toward a nuclear dawn full of promise, prosperity and technological marvels. The most famous of these was the 1940 New York World’s Fair and their Futurama show.
Futurist’s at the time promised domestic robots would be available to all and it was a vision that at the time was not only realistic, but seemed highly attainable.
Domestic service robots have long been a staple of commercial visions of the future. Until recently, we have only been able to speculate about what the experience of using such a device might be. With the advantage of hindsight, the 1940’s service robots of the future were depicted as clunky, huge and often grotesque, but at the time yielded fascination and awe from a people looking to a better tomorrow. Nobody knew quite how this human-robot domestic interaction would work, nor did they ask. To determine how an autonomous, mobile robot might “fit” into such a space as a family household would spoil the myth set alight by the Futurists of the day.
According to the International Federation of Robotics, a service robot is a robot which operates semi or fully autonomously to perform services useful to the well being of humans and equipment, excluding manufacturing operations. Needless to say, we never got out service robots. Instead we polished our own tables, swept our own floors, and cleaned our own windows. The technology developed, but it separated. It went into the household utensils themselves. The microwaves, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers and televisions all developed over time, lightening domestic chores and simplifying household maintenance.
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Illustration / Kuvitus
Technology is a strange thing. People are at once awed by and distrustful of it. The advancement of technology needs to be carefully guided by all aspects and sensibilities of Man instead of singularly serving logic and production.
Art and technology have had a close but volatile relationship throughout the course of history. The word technology came from the Greek for art (tekhnÄ) and both are inherently the obscure creations of Man.
The analogy of a feedback loop between art and technology is indicative of the relationship between them. The convergence between the feelings and imagery the artist wished to convey and what technology is capable of delivering in terms of realizing these involved a complex dialectical procedure.
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Essay / Essee, Sculpture / Kuvanveisto