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We heart robots"Robots: Evolution of a Cultural Icon" is the name of a new exhibit at the San Jose Museum of Art. CNET News.com's Kara Tsuboi pays a visit to the California museum to learn how and why artists have used robots to mirror society and why they're beloved...
^B00:00:00 [ Music ] ^M00:00:03 >>I'm Kara Tsuboi, CnetNews.com. The term robot was first used in a 1923 Czech play. Ever since then the world has been fascinated by these humanoid figures. This exhibition at the San Jose Museum of Art takes a look at the evolution of this cultural icon. >>I feel that robots are almost like a symbol that we can use to project our feelings about technology onto. >>That's why curator JoAnne Northrup calls this exhibit both a nostalgic and futuristic as it examines the way bots can serve as a surprisingly accurate cultural barometer. >>In a way they serve as avatars where we project into the robot the things that we feel about our society and the world we live in. I think we just like to create things in our own image and it's like we're in a way playing God. We're creating a creature that can work and do things for us and we're in control of it. Or, are we? >>The collection spans the last 50 years. It starts with this piece, H.C. Westerman's evil new war god SOB. >>And he thought of the war machine as like a robot that's out of control. >>Now it is possible to tour this exhibit and appreciate the art on a purely esthetic level. [ Music ] >>But the most interesting pieces will challenge your notions of artificial intelligence. >>It really is sort of eyes on a pole, but it has somehow this human-like presence, like a totem. We see our presence reflected in her eyes. >>He's created some software that expresses emotions and you can see those emotions mapped out on the projection on the wall behind. There are a variety of interactions that are possible just between Neil and Iona when they're here alone, but when someone enters the room then that changes. >>For JoAnne's research into robots, which included watching every single robot-themed movie she could find, she's arrived at some fascinating conclusions on different culture's perceptions of these humanoid forms. >>I would say that there's definitely though a western viewpoint which says that be careful what you do with technology because it might turn against you. I think that the Japanese perspective, in particular, is that robots are here to help us and they're going to make our lives easier. >>Guests to this museum can tour the art in an innovative way by using their own or borrowed iPod touches as their private multimedia tour guide. >>This is the home screen and so you'll see several links and these are exhibitions that we have or you can explore our permanent collection. >>However you choose to enjoy the exhibit, JoAnne hopes this collection will spark a dialog about what robots mean in a modern world. >>To dig deeper into our relationship with technology and get us to think about it from an intellectual viewpoint. >>But no matter how deep you dig, there's one bottom line. >>Everyone loves robots. >>I know I do. I'm Kara Tsuboi, CnetNews.com.