Strike a Pose: Robot Selfies

  • Lisa Gotto


Robots don’t seem to be vain creatures taking snapshots of themselves. As functional machines, their purpose is to create a picture of the world without dwelling on the pleasures of self-presentation and self-admiration. However, robots have been taking selfies for quite a while. When Gigapan, a robotic camera mount designed to capture pictures of artwork for Google’s Art Project, traveled through the world’s most famous museums, it took a whole series of selfies by reflecting itself in the galleries’ mirrors. Another prominent photogenic robot is NASA’s Science Laboratory rover Curiosity. When it landed on Mars, it held its camera at robotic arm’s length to take head shots: truly authentic selfies, as they seem. Robot selfies raise questions about self-reflection and the concepts that are associated with it. Why does a robot take a selfie? What does it mean for a machine to capture and present itself? Is the robot selfie a way of android self-recognition and self-monitoring? Could it be that camera robots do not just circulate images but are capable of creating machinic self-awareness? The chapter addresses these issues to discuss what new territories the form of the robot selfie could explore. The first section considers the optical effect of reflection and its contribution to the formation of robotic self-depiction; the second discusses the process of technological transformation and the shift of knowledge constellations that is linked to it. The peculiarity of robot selfies, Gotto argues, lies in their aptitude to mediate between self-reflection and self-transformation. Robot selfies exist both as an effect and an alternative mode of selfie culture. As such, they are a prime site for investigating not only the logics and aesthetics of selfies but also the future potential of digital media culture.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa Gotto
    • 1
  1. 1.ifs internationale filmschule KölnCologneGermany

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