This paper analyzes creative practice including virtual music composition by a human and sets of computer programs, improvisation of music and dance in human-robot ensembles, and drawings produced by a human and a robotic arm. In all of these examples, the paper argues that creativity arises from a process of human-robot collaboration. Human influences on the machines involved exist at many levels, from initial creation and programming, via processes of reprogramming and setup of underlying data and parameters, to engagement throughout the process of creative production. The decision to value a machine as a creative other is supported most strongly when collaborating with the machine directly, while witnessing the creative team at work, as opposed simply to seeing the result, is more likely to bring an audience to a similar understanding. The creativity of the human-machine collaborations analyzed in this paper relies on close interaction, within which there is a continual recognition of the otherness of the machine and its nonhuman abilities. Such relations can be theorized by extending Emmanuel Levinas’ conception of the face-to-face encounter within which self and other are brought into proximity, but the alterity of the other is nonetheless retained. The paper’s analysis of creative interactions between humans and robots supports the idea that machines need not be regarded as challenging human artistic practice, but rather enable new ways for creativity to arise through human-machine collaborations within which human and nonhuman creative abilities are combined.
Human-machine collaboration Creativity Music Dance Drawing