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Convening works in a variety of media, Robots Building Robots addresses the intersection, or divergence, of creation and consciousness in the digital age, reflecting ways in which images are harvested without human direction; take on lives of their own and experience half-lives and afterlives; materialize in iterative forms; and proliferate via feedback loops, algorithmic generators, and open-source material.
Including works by Adam Basanta (Montreal), Tyler Coburn (New York), Caroline Delieutraz (Paris), Oliver Laric (Berlin), Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (Montreal and Madrid), Sara Ludy (“everywhere”), Jon Rafman (Montreal), Evan Roth (Paris), Sebastian Schmieg (Berlin) and Silvio Lorusso (Rotterdam), and organized by Amanda Donnan, Curator, Seattle University Art Galleries.
The exhibition title comes from a performance and book by Tyler Coburn—a “travelogue of improvised monologues” conducted in a Taiwanese science park that considers the implications of “lights out” manufacturing in relation to labor, machinic intelligence, and automation. Born of a fantasy of unceasing production, fully automated “lights out” factories rarely require workers—or illumination—on the manufacturing floor. In practice, though, their operation can lead to unexpected outcomes, as Coburn writes: “Thirty years ago, Roger Smith of General Motors believed that lights-out manufacturing was the only way to give America a competitive edge over Japan. Robots were designed to run without humans, yet even with the lights on, they often ended up painting themselves.”
The exhibition expands from this image of (inadvertent) techno-human creative collaboration and the paradoxical ability of rule-based systems to produce the unforeseen. The image becomes one of almost ubiquitous everyday potential in an era in which data collection and algorithms document and direct our every experience online and, increasingly, shape IRL encounters as well. Artists in Robots Building Robots engage and twist pervasive systems like Google Streetview and Search By Image, surrender singular authorship by creating open-source works, or examine the effects of algorithmic culture on our behaviors and perceptions.
Artist Tyler Coburn will be in attendance at the opening reception. Throughout the exhibition, gallery visitors will be invited to participate in an on-demand 3D printing project based on Oliver Laric’s open-source Lincoln 3D Scans (2012-ongoing), presented in collaboration with Seattle University’s Mechanical Engineering department.
The exhibition continues through December 10th.