Public Gallery 2015

Luisa Whitton

The contemporary advances of technology in Japan have entered a realm that was once only seen in science fiction. A niche of the Japanese robotics industry is driven by a philosophical pursuit to understand what it means to be human, and believes that making human robotics is the answer.

I have spent several months in Japan working with Scientist Hiroshi Ishiguro, a Japanese scientist who built a robotic copy of himself, and continue to work with other scientists documenting their scientific progress on humanoids. I am motivated by a pursuit to answer; what drives technological progress? And with a technological future in sight, what will the human consequences be? The photographic series focuses heavily on the eerily lifelike faces, that were constructed for the robots as a way to question the humanistic aspect of the subject. 

'In the photographs, I am trying to subvert the traditional formula of portraiture and lure the audience into a debate on the boundaries that determine the dichotomy of human/not human. The photographs become documents of objects that sit between scientific tool and horrid simulacrum.'

In an interview with Scientist Hiroshi Ishiguro on the definition of being human , I ask; 'What about the heart?' he answers, unaware of the abstract intentions of her question; 'The heart is the easiest part; artificial hearts are very popular now. The liver is more difficult'. 

The photo book What About the Heart? will have 3 strands, portraits of the robots, documentary images of the laboratories, and sketchbook pages from Hiroshi Ishiguro, which will be smaller insert pages throughout the book. The initial concept of the publication is a multi layered narrative that shifts between the perspective of the artist, the robot and the scientist. The book will sit between an exploration of science and art and their similar creative gestures, with the core question of the book being; what does it mean to be human as technology progresses?

The submitted PDF is the current sequence of images, the sketchbook pages will be half pages, and inserted between images, allowing the image to show on the other half of the page, I am experimenting with using translucent paper for this pages with white ink.