Robots and Art

Part of the series Cognitive Science and Technology pp 273-306


The Multiple Bodies of a Machine Performer

  • Louis-Philippe DemersAffiliated withSchool of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University Email author 

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This chapter examines the potentials arising from the embodiment of Machine Performers. Thru an analysis of a robotic reappropriation of the early 20th century dance ensemble named The Tiller Girls, I argue that alternate views of the body further the concept of embodiment as currently seen by artificial intelligence. The chapter first compares embodiment from the biological to the social and cultural. Second, it analyses the passage of a walking robot, nicknamed Stumpy, from the AI lab to the stage. It describes how the historical body of the Tiller Girls shifts the perception of audiences and how such inherited competence contributes to the interpretive skills of a machine. I discuss on intrinsic characteristics that make them perform as opposed to solely function. Finally, by shifting this scientific investigation on gaits towards the perception and reception of robot movements, I am exploring audience mechanisms of empathy and identification towards those non-human performers.