WEIL AM RHEIN – From industry to the military, from children’s nurseries to retirement homes, robots are all around us. These robotic machines are irrevocably tied to human lives; built by us and designed for us.
From 11 February to 14 May 2017, the Vitra Design Museum will present Hello, Robot: Design between Human and Machine, a major exhibition that examines the role of design in the evolution of robots. With over 200 exhibits, Hello, Robot showcases robots in the home, in industry, medical care, and popular culture, as well as computer games and media installations. The exhibition also features an extensive line-up of talks, films, performances and workshops. Every detail is designed to illuminate robotic technology across a range of perspectives to raise our awareness of the relevant ethical, social and political issues.
Raising Robotic Natives (2016). Photo Jonas Voigt
Divided into four sections, the exhibition covers an array of themes and begs visitors to dare to ask critical questions. The first section inspects the way popular culture and the media has shaped and in some cases warped society’s perception and understanding of robots. The second section analyses the debate of automation vs human creativity, challenging preconceptions that technological development threatens human jobs. Thirdly, the exhibition explores the gradual integration of robotic technology in our daily lives, whether as friendly companions or helpful partners and assistants. Finally, the fourth section investigates the possible merging of humans with robotics, through having smart sensors implanted in our bodies for example.
Human Version 2.07 Nexi (2009). Photo Yves Gellie, Galerie du jour agnès b, Galerie Baudoin Lebon
Bridge Project (2015), a pedestrian bridge 3D printed by robots. Photo Joris Laarman Lab
Outside the museum, the Elytra Filament Pavilion provides visitors with a premonition of the rest of the exhibition. Constructed of glass and carbon fibre, the undulating baldachin demonstrates an impressive application of robotics in architecture: the individual modules were defined by an algorithm and then produced with an industrial robot.
Elytra Filament Pavilion (as at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London). Photo NAARO
Developed by a team of students from the University of Stuttgart, the 200-sq-m installation made its debut at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
The theme of robotics is even reflected in the exhibition catalogue – the layout of the catalogue was programmed according to an algorithm.
Visit the Hello, Robot: Design between Human and Machine exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum between 11 February and 14 May 2017.
Title image: Vintage Toy Robots, private collection (1956–1980). Photo by Andreas Sütterlin