Following our publication of "Tele-Agency: Telematics, Telerobotics, and the Art of Meaning" by Edward A. Shanken four months ago onhttp://neme.org/main/620/tele-agency
we are pleased to announce a second text by the same author: "Hot to Bot:Pygmalion's Lust, the Maharal's Fear, and the Cyborg Future of Art".
"The idea that non-living matter could be used to invoke, influence, and emulate living beings is probably as old as human life itself. Over thousands of years this concept has become deeply ingrained in the human imagination as a locus of desires and fears about the future; and about the role of art and technology in forming it. In reviewing some of this history, I shall focus on, for lack of a better term, the moral of the story; in other words, what prevailing attitudes towards robots and other surrogate beings at a certain place and time tell us about the values of that culture. This background sets the stage for a similar consideration of robots with regard to contemporary morals, mythologies, and values, as they relate to the production of robots and artificial life forms by artists. Norman White has written that, "For me, Art comes alive only when it provides a framework for asking questions." The intersecting histories of art and automata offer a fertile context for people like White to frame interesting questions and make art come alive - and come alive in a sense that arguably extends beyond the merely metaphorical. Moreover, I believe that the sorts of questions that artists ask about surrogate beings offer particularly valuable insights into contemporary perceptions of the human condition vis-a-vis the cyborgian condition of our artificial siblings, and the increasingly hybrid conditions of what social critics from Katherine Hayles to Marilyn Manson have termed the posthuman."
The complete text can be found on http://neme.org/main/689/hot-to-bot
As always, texts are open to commenting.