In trying to decide what my poster theme would be I have explored images of robots and of holograms. Neither should be considered a final piece but looked at more as sketches.
In pursuing the ‘hologram’ idea first, I drew inspiration from the magazine article reproduced in a previous blog post under this section. I started to imagine the other types of hologram we might see in the future, beyond the ‘holographic protesters’.
One immediate idea was to recreate landmark historical events, reproduced for the tourist industry of the future, so that the ‘tourists’ could experience realistic views straight from history. My first experiment was with a holographic recreation of the Berlin wall. A lack of good source imagery hampered this idea.
The image was difficult to assemble as the process for creating the holographic look was complicated and on a video tutorial that was fairly advanced in its delivery in that it assumed the viewer was competent with all the processes shown.
I tried another version this time with just a person forming the hologram but again the process wasn’t as successful as I would have liked.
Another idea I had to meet the brief involved robotics. In exploring this approach I began by examining all the classic robots of the movies starting with the very first one in Metropolis. Visiting the Sony Centre museum of Film in Berlin, I came face to face with the robot / cyborg from the movie as the museum has an extensive display dedicated to this iconic film. While humaniod in form, the classic metal shape of this sci fi robot has influenced generations of film makers as parallels can be seen in their creations too. Star Wars C3PO robot bears a striking similarity to the Metropolis mechanical automaton.
Researching other real developments in robotics from Japan, USA and at home all led to the idea that a ‘humanoid’ robot was not that many years away. Many of the latest developments were featured in the TV programme ‘The Gadget Show’, offering me clues as to where the science of robotics might be in 10 years time. Going with this initial idea I created a series of sketches based around a robot. Using stills I had taken previously I turned my fashion model into a robot and placed her against the background of the Berlin Sony Centre, the most futuristic place I had photographed.
In this work I wanted to try and capture the moment that a robot would watch TV, where in a technological world the idea of a natural landscape would conjure nostalgic thoughts.
This led to the next piece which worked around the idea of a rusting robot, itself now redundant and becoming the object of nostalgia. To symbolise this I made several copies of the robot, changing each in a small way to give the impression of a mass production of the same model.
Carrying on my research in both science journals and TV programmes, all the indications were that artificial intelligence would reach a turning point in sentience in the next 10 years. This would be the point that AI could quite possibly become truly self aware.
From this perspective I wanted to create an image which would encapsulate this moment of self awareness, the instant that a machine became more than a machine. In discussing this with a teacher of young children, I concluded that the first moment of sentience would most likely be child like.
Inspiration came also by watching a group of Beaver Scouts toast marshmallows over an open fire on a Scout Campsite where I’m the Warden. The almost hypnotic fascination the children had with watching the flames in the low light of early evening reminded me of a painting involving a bell jar symbolising ‘enlightenment’.
An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1768
The Matchmaker by Gerrit van Honthorst
Girl Reading a Letter : Joseph Wright of Derby
Calide (Debora Calicchia) Girl with a candle
My teacher source went on to say that flames ‘enthuse and excite’ children and that recently the school has been exploring this with a new approach to teaching called ‘Forest school’. This involves the children exploring the outdoors and all the crafts associated with it such as wood work skills, gardening, controlled fire lighting, animal management, nature conservation among many others. Taking the children’s fascination with a flame and inspired by many of the paintings illustrated in this RRJ blog entry I explored the idea of a robot and a flame.
This painting though is remastered, in that the original image by William Adolphe Bouguereau actually shows the girl with a bird on her hand.
There are several variations on this, see below:
Not to be distracted by this and taking equal inspiration from several similar themed paintings (see above) quite simply I wanted to replace the child with a robot whilst still keeping the child like fascination with the candle. By doing so I hoped to symbolise the artificial intelligence’s enlightenment moment.
The pictures below are a selection of the source imagery I used to try and design my robot picture. I had already decided to make the image a portrait as this would focus the attention on the gaze and the candle but also meant I didn’t have to build an entire robot.
To make a start I trawled around many charity shops looking for anything I could construct a robot out of.
Version 1 of the image is below. In this I used an old Star Wars toy helmet, but although the essence of the image works its not as powerful as I wanted.
Encouraged by this I concluded that the face of the robot needed to be more human like. This was an experiment in the transfer of emotion from what would normally be a human face hypnotised by the candle to a metallic robot’s expressionless face also bewildered by the candle. The only way I could think of including expression in my mechanical subject was by tilting the robot head. Version 1 allowed me to experiment with this.
Altering the Star Wars helmet’s front features and thus creating a new robot face that was more human like (and less Star Wars) helped, but adding red ‘eyes’ actually made it more menacing thus a retro step in trying to capture innocence.
I rapidly came to the conclusion that my robot face had to be more human like. With this decision made I then set to the task of making a robot face. This was created from a template downloaded from the internet, which piece by piece was cut out and assembled with glue.
Using the same technique as I had for the plastic head I placed the completed card mask over an angle poise lamp which allowed me to play with the angle at which the head posed, whilst keeping the mask still enough to shoot under just candle light.
Using a large sheet of laminated card bent under the chin of the mask and secured by the base of the lamp created the impression of a chest. An attempt at hand colouring again took the image a step nearer. Whilst the painted version was a good image I wanted more of the reflection of the candle in the robots face.
Using the chrome filter in the filter selection of Photo shop I managed to obtain the metallic look I was after. Adding in muscle lines and creating a neck finished the piece. The final touch was to add illumination in the eyes by the use of the lens flare tool in the Photo shop filters section.
Robot Enlightenment : (c) Graham Matthews