Sunday, April 17, 2016

Week 3: Robotics and Art

The synergy between arts, literature, and technology has historic roots tracing back to the ancient times. In Benjamin Walter's essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, for example, it was mentioned that the invention of lithography led to drastic increases in the reproduction and dissemination of literature and graphic art forms. It should also be mentioned that it was through such mass production of books, made possible by the invention of lithography, that knowledge became easily accessible, hence it comes with no surprise that lithographic techniques played a pivotal role in shaping the world as it is.
Ancient Lithography
Robots depicted in Capek's film
The Iron Man

Aside from lithographic techniques, advances in science and technology have also seen rapid developments in areas of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) such as robotics. First introduced in Karel Capek's film Rossum's Universal Robot, the terms "robots" and "cyborgs" have since found various expression in arts and media.

A prime example of "robots" in media would be the Iron Man franchise owned by Marvel Studios. This series revolves around the life of a genius billionaire named Tony Stark, who developed an extremely sophisticated A.I. system J.A.R.V.I.S. that is able to respond to his needs, such as taking care of daily chores and maintaining the condition within his corporation Stark Industries, which is mainly involved in developing advanced weapons and defense technologies; the most prominent being the robotic battle suit he developed to fight against invaders from all over the Marvel Universe. It is needless to say that this movie series is well received by people of all ages, with the third installment Iron Man 3 making into the top 20 highest-grossing films of all times. In addition to the Iron Man franchise, robots have also appeared in other popular anime series such as Evangelion and Gundam, further attesting to the artistic expression of technology. 

The recent victory of Google's AlphaGo against South Korean Go grandmaster Lee Sedol has led to further popularization of A.I. such that even the layman would wonder if one day robots would eventually supersede humans.  While we are yet able to draw a definitive conclusion, we must nevertheless concede on the point that the speed of the development of A.I.s is indeed astounding.


1. Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Marxists. N.p. 18 Oct 2012. Web. 17 April 2016. <>.

2. Vesna,Victoria. “Lectures Part 2.” Robotics + Art. 17 Apr. 2016. Lecture.

3. Jacobs, Matthew. "'Iron Man 3' Box Office: Superhero Threequel Passes $1 Billion Mark." The Huffington Post., 17 May 2013. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. <>.

4. Andre Beguin. "Lithography". Printmaking Dictionary. N.p. N.d. Web. 17 April 2016.

5. "Mark 43" Iron Man Wikia. N.p. N.d. Web. 17 April 2016.

1 comment:

  1. The unprecedented match between Alphogo and Lee Sedol was very impressive. I wonder how far robotics industry can develop... At this rate, robots may replace most of human labor someday.