Technology moves, reacts and pretends to be human – so what can it do for us?

TECHNOLOGY – Perhaps the greatest point of friction between man and machine is not hardware but software, which may replace its organic counterpart in terms of automated production lines and answering systems, for example, yet fail to emulate human body language and facial expressions. The resultant gap leaves both forces stranded in the so-called uncanny valley. Recent designs address the struggle by exploring how living beings often look at the ‘almost human’ and see their likenesses, as well as how the voices in this dialogue can lose their distinguishing qualities.

On the Body, Random International’s exhibition at New York City’s Pace Gallery, unravelled the mechanisms of perception. Two art installations examined the subject in the context of the human form. The robotic arms of Fifteen Points were illuminated at the tips to represent human anatomy in motion, and Fragments was a grid of 200 pivoting mirrors equipped with sensors that responded to – and followed – visitors by transmuting into different 3D forms.

Photos courtesy of Random International

Viennese studio Mischer’Traxler (introduced in Frame 80) showed a contemporary chandelier at Somerset House during the London Design Biennale. The designers call LeveL ‘a big light mobile’ that is brightest when all components are in perfect balance with one another. When passers-by came in contact with the lamp, even slightly, the lights dimmed. The concept answered the theme of the biennale – utopia – by highlighting the discrepancy between individual and collective visions of Sir Thomas More’s fictional universe.

Photos Simon Scherrer

Interactive designer and Écal gradate Alexia Léchot came up with a delta robot and named it Deltu. ‘It has a mind of its own,’ she says, ‘but still wants your company.’ Interacting with humans by means of two iPads, the ‘gaming machine’ has serious mood swings. If its human opponent makes too many mistakes, Deltu gets bored and starts posting selfies on Instagram.

Photos ÉCAL / Younès Klouche

This article is featured in Frame 114

Billboard: Pre-Sale Book Schemata
Billboard: Pre-Sale Book Schemata

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