Open Call for Robo-Art

03 Feb, 2020

Open Call for Robo-Art

Open Call Exhibition Featuring UC Berkeley Student Artists

February 19th - March 12th, 2020
Opening Reception: 4 - 7pm, Wednesday, February 19th

Presented by the Department of Art Practice. Co-Sponsored by the Berkeley Center for New Media.

Worth Ryder Art Gallery: 116 Kroeber Hall, UC Berkeley Campus
Gallery Hours: 12 - 5pm, Monday - Thursday
Free and Open to the Public

The year 2020 marks the 100th year since Czech playwright Karel Čapek coined the word robot, although stories of mechanical beings and attempts to create automata stretch as far back as recorded history.

Artists have been involved in this process since the first animated sculptures. Some have dreamed of utopias where humanity is freed from drudgery by the ultimate labor-saving device. Others have questioned the effects of mechanization on society and the repercussions of human simulacra on the collective psyche. In the 21st century, as robotic engineering and machine learning have reached a stage of accelerating returns, the artist’s role as ethical interrogator has gained new urgency.

99 ROBOTS approaches the concept of the robot expansively at a time when the replacement of human workers by robotic technology is increasingly visible, when the transhumanist fantasies of the tech industry have been short-circuited by the economic and political exploitation of our data bodies.

UC Berkeley, a key player in the development of robotics, celebrates the Free Speech Movement of the early 1960s as central to its institutional identity, yet Mario Savio’s often quoted speech proclaims:

“There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part! … and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels ... upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop!”

99 ROBOTS asks students whether this sentiment is still relevant in 2020, and gives them space to explore their own relationship to “the operation of the machine.”