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“Sometimes I feel like Jane Goodall observing nature in the wild—and then I can just put on my engineering hat and go tinker around with their brains.”
– American ‘robot whisperer’ and ATONATON founder Madeline Gannon, on the “handcrafted algorithms” that drive her menagerie of industrial machines. “My robots are distinctively obnoxious when you’re around them,” Gannon reveals to Dezeen’s Cajsa Carlson. “And I have to imagine that’s a piece of my personality embedded within that, you know; they’re in your face.”
“Art doesn’t play fetch with approval. It chews the slippers of convention and relishes in the surprise of its own bark.”
Mario Klingemann’s ChatGPT-powered robot dog, A.I.C.C.A. (Artificially Intelligent Critical Canine, 2023), putting the pun in pundit. Unveiled in June at Espacio Solo in Madrid, the “performative sculpture” comments on the “endless barrage of AI-created art to consume, critique, or rather, endure,” says Klingemann. It also pokes fun at the art world, “which—let’s admit it—can occasionally obsess over the art of spouting profound, if at times inscrutable, BS.”

Considering compassion and competence, “AI: Who’s Looking After Me?” opens at Science Gallery London. Co-presented with FutureEverything, invited artists including James Bridle, Wesley Goatley, Seo Hye Lee, and Mimi Ọnụọha interrogate “what it means to entrust our care to autonomous machines. ” Blast Theory’s Cat Royale (2023, image), for example, puts Ghostbuster, Pumpkin, and Clover in the custody of a computer vision system and robot arm, which monitor, tend to, and play with the three felines.

German AI artist Mario Klingemann releases A.I.C.C.A., short for Artificially Intelligent Critical Canine (2023), into the current exhibition of Madrid’s Colección SOLO. Equipped with a camera, thermal printer, and ChatGPT, the furry AI art critic on wheels is designed to roam galleries and offer analysis—from its butt. The performative sculpture pokes fun at punditry but isn’t cynical, Klingemann assures. “Art critics play a very important role. The worst thing that can happen to an artist is to be ignored.”

“A future that de-centres the human in artistic practice to make room for other-than-human, living, and nonliving configurations also ignites the field of art itself—re-framing the artist as an engineer, designer, and system architect.”
– Chinese-Canadian artist and researcher Sougwen Chung, discussing AI and her robot collaborations ahead of “As Above, So Below,” a two-day program hosted by the Science Gallery London to celebrate Gaia theory and the life of biologist Lynn Margulis
“Semi-autonomous weapons, like loitering munitions that track and detonate themselves on targets, require a ‘human in the loop.’ They can recommend actions but require their operators to initiate them.”
– Human rights researcher James Dawes, describing how most drones deployed in the Russia-Ukraine war are still overseen by a human. Fearing that’s about to change, activists warn that imminent autonomous weapons “erode meaningful human control over what happens on the battlefield” and will inevitably kill civilians.

“The Technate,” an exhibition by Peter Behrbohm and Markus Bühler that “follows the wires” of North American internet infrastructure, opens at Berlin’s panke.gallery. The show centres their eponymous research project (2023, image), a reenactment of a 1947 road trip (from California to British Columbia) promoting the technocracy movement. In it, the duo cosplay as technicians (with a robot dog), and visit technoculture hotspots including Internet Archive and Noisebridge.

“You can see that there’s a genealogy here that results in a TikTok-dancing murder robot named M3GAN. This is fundamentally some old, old stuff.”
– Choreographer Sydney Skybetter, on how the impossibly slick dance moves of horror film M3GAN’s titular dancing robot tap into deep-seated anxieties about nonhuman movement (e.g. the creepy marching of Boston Dynamics’ Spot)

London’s V&A Museum announces the acquisition of Sougwen Chung’s 2017 drawing MEMORY (D.O.U.G. 2) for its permanent collection. Part of the Chinese-Canadian artist’s body of painterly robot collaborations, the acquisition includes the RNN (Recurrent Neural Network) model that Chung trained on years of her own drawings to co-create the piece. It’s the first artifact of its kind to be acquired by a cultural institution, the V&A notes.

Swiss artist and designer Jürg Lehni celebrates the 20th anniversary of his seminal robotic drawing machine, Hektor (2002), in a commemorative Twitter thread. “Imperfect and full of character,” the hanging computer-controlled spray-paint plotter drew at transmediale, Design Museum London, and the MoMA, and remains a DIY marvel for its time: “edged circuit boards, assembly-programmed microcontrollers—we did everything by hand,” Lehni notes about making in the pre-fab era.

The first-ever solo exhibition of Brooklyn-based art collective MSCHF opens at Perrotin, New York, presenting elaborate interventions that leverage the absurdity of late-stage capitalism. Transforming the gallery into an interactive strip mall, “No More Tears, I’m Lovin’ It” showcases the group’s art as merchandize. Spot’s Revenge (2022, image), for example, trolls Boston Dynamics with a heavily armed robot dog, after the manufacturer disabled the legally purchased unit remotely.

“Cyborg cockroaches that find earthquake survivors. A ‘robofly’ that sniffs out gas leaks. Flying lightning bugs that pollinate farms in space. These aren’t just buzzy ideas, they’re becoming reality.”
– Reporter Pranshu Verma, on the state of insectoid micro-scale robotics. In his survey, Verma covers research breakthroughs at the Autonomous Insect Robotics Laboratory at the University of Washington, the MIT, and Japan’s Riken Thin-Film Device Laboratory.
“A human operator tags the ends of the intestine with drops of fluorescent glue, creating markers the robot can track.”
– Science journalist James Gaines, describing the computer vision workflow that allowed the Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR) prototype to recently successfully perform intestinal surgery on pig tissue
“Basha’s paintings are dominated by circles, which she creates with her feet, while her lines are created by a painting arm.”
– Critic Hrag Vartanian, describing paintings by Agnieszka Pilat’s robot dog Basha (a renamed instance of General Dynamics’ Spot). Wary of the gimmick, Vartanian writes “these machines … are ultimately not our friends, and humanizing them distracts from their use by authorities to police, control, or kill populations from a distance,”

Korean artist duo Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho’s solo exhibition “Seoul Weather Station” opens at Art Sonje Center in Seoul, presenting two new works that tackle the planet’s collapsing ecosphere. The large-scale immersive installation To Build a Fire (2022) shows anthropocentric shifts from a nonhuman perspective—a four-legged robot—while Mobile Agora (2022) offers a participatory platform for critical climate conversations as part of the artist-run World Weather Network (WWN).

German duo Mouse on Mars (MoM) performs using ROBODYNAMIC DIFFUSION: RDD (2021, image), as part of “Technobodies,” a program across Munich venues Lenbachhaus, Haus der Kunst, and Museum Brandhorst. Jointly developed by MoM’s Jan St. Werner, Michael Akstaller, Nele Jäger, and Oliver Mayer, RDD is a directional speaker bot that projects sound in a tightly focused beam, creating opportunities to induce “controlled disorientations and sensory redirections” in audiences.

“The robot broke the child’s finger. This is of course bad.”
– Sergey Lazarev, president of the Moscow Chess Federation, on a recent Moscow Open altercation between a chess-playing robot and its seven-year-old opponent. “The child made a move, and after that we need to give time for the robot to answer, but the boy hurried, the robot grabbed him,” Lazarev told TASS news agency, after video of the incident was published on Telegram.

Combining robotic painting methods with Arabic artisanal practices, Liat Grayver and Nora Al-Badri’s 4-day exhibition “Continuum” opens at Berlin’s transmediale Studio. Together with graffiti artist and computer scientist Daniel Berio, the two Berlin-based media artists explore, reconnect with, and reappropriate the aesthetic(al) heritage of their families’ Baghdad origins through the computational reproduction of calligraphy and ornamentation.

Showcasing four women-identifying artists whose practices address feminized robots, “Can You Fuck It?” opens at Tokyo’s Ningen Gallery. Curator Elena Knox, Allison de Fren, Mika Kan (image: The Silent Woman, 2017), and Lin Xin’s contributed works—spanning documentary to digital illustration—demonstrate that “women’s ideas must begin to be acknowledged alongside those that present objectified feminine embodiment as a fait accompli,” writes Knox in her curatorial essay.

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