Robot Romance

Vincent and Emily are robots designed to behave as a human couple:

In the artists’ words, “Disagreement is preprogrammed.” They elaborate: “Just like in each human relationship, it comes to misunderstandings: If Vincent sends positive signals by up and down movements, it is possible that Emily interprets even those signals as negative.” The result is a bizarre dance that seems highly conflicted and rarely at ease.

It’s up to the viewer to make sense of their relationship, and the instinct is to relate a drama that’s purely informatics in human terms. It’s a clever exploration of the meaning we invest in machines at a time when society is growing increasingly anxious and aware of the quick acceleration of artificial intelligence and the impacts it will have. Smarter, functional robots are poised to take our job–so goes the popular narrative–but they’ll never have the emotional intelligence to approximate the complexity of human relationships.

Gallery of stills from the exhibit here. Recent Dish on robots here and here.