New Romance: Art and the Posthuman

Since I study computer science, play a lot video games and watch a lot anime in my free time, my understanding of media art is somewhat limited to what’s on the screen in a virtual space (or virtual reality). The artworks at MCA expanded my understanding of physical media art and media art installation, taking elements within virtual space out to the real world instead of other way around (representing real wold elements in a virtual space, CGI, movie, game or otherwise).

One of the artwork that interested me (which I also talked about for assessment 1) is the Species series by the Korean artist Wonbin Yang. It is a very interesting piece of artwork, and I have to agree with the artist that those everyday rubbish is slowly entering our life like habitant of the modern city. In a forest, one would expect it to habit thousands of animals, plants and insects, we have cut down the forest and built a city on top of it, trees are replaced with streetlights, poles and skyscrapers but the thousands of animals and insects only replaced by 1 species; human. To me it’s very interesting to see those “animals” roaming around the city like the substituted for the missing diversity that would exist in forests, and treat the city as their native habitat.

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Wonbin created a unique ecosystem with those rubbish robots, each robot might only have simple commands and not even equip with AI but they react and behave differently with different biological characteristics that give it a unique personality, create illusion of nature ecosystem and life with in the city (apart from boring humans).

Furthermore, the video accompany those robots are also delivered like a documentary similar to the documentary found in most of the natural geographic channel. The video shows the daily activity of those robots like the hunt for food, their failure and the struggle of living in their habitat.

Another interesting thing I noticed about the videos is that other people in the video didn’t notice those robots roaming the city, maybe they assume it’s just another everyday rubbish that get carried around by wind, but I think their reaction is very similar to large animal’s reaction in forest upon seeing smaller animal or insects, they just ignore them for various reason.

Apart from Wonbin Yang, there are other artist that communicate their idea with robotic art, a good example would be the chinses artist Shyu, who work with various installation that convey his ideas and feeling toward life, memories and environment. His most famous work includes “One Kind of Behaviour” that consists of tiny robots inside a water bucket that behave like hermit crabs on beach another one of his work is “Eight Drunken Immortals” which work with tiny robots with wheel that move and paint the floor, I think it is very similar to Wonbin Yang’s Species series, they both move with simple AI agent but seem random due to external factors like winds and gravity, above all, both work portrait the robots as living organism.

Another good example would be Dirk, created by “Electric Circus” that resemble like your everyday homeless, its capable of moving around and perform some basic human interactions, the concept is a bit different but it give similar feeling to Wonbin Yang’s Species series, both project tries to blend in to our environment and surrounding, but at the same time, it’s a bit weird.

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