“Hello, Robot. Design between Human and Machine” Exhibition

    The Vitra Design Museum from Germany (in collaboration with the MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art, Vienna – Austria and the Design Museum Gent, Belgium) is presenting a major exhibition that examines the current boom in robotics in detail for the first time.

    The curators are Amelie Klein, Thomas Geisler, Marlies Wirth and Fredo de Smet.

    It offers the first in-depth study of the current robotic boom – with examples of robots from homes, industry, medical science, film and literature.

    The exhibition ‘Hello, Robot’ demonstrates how today’s robotic trend is transforming our lives – and how design is changing robotics. Why is the discussion about robots also a discussion about design?

    Should we be excited or worried about a future with robots?

    There can be no doubt that we are heading towards a more intelligent, more autonomous – more robotic – living environment than the one we know today.

    And design has a responsible role in creating this new living environment, because it is through design that we can influence how and where we encounter the smart objects and systems that surround us, how we interact with them – and they with us.

    In reality, we are already surrounded by robots and robotic systems that are capable of assuming every conceivable physical or digital form, material quality, scale and intelligence level: from drones to self-checkouts, from cranes to nanobots, and from vacuum cleaners with the intelligence of an amoeba to online chatbots that can engage us for hours.

    So the question whether we should be excited or worried about robots is perhaps less pertinent than whether we should trust the political-economic complex of humans, organisations and infrastructure that stands behind them.

    What was found in the research for this exhibition is that the future is ambivalent, and that our relationship to robots and robotic systems will probably remain so. It is therefore possible to be both wowed and worried at the same time.

    Hello, Robot. Design between Human and Machine” comprises more than 200 exhibits from the fields of design and art and includes robots used in the home, in nursing care, and in industry as well as computer games, media installations, and examples of films and literature in which robots feature.

    Hello, Robot. Design between Human and Machine” Exhibition shows the wide variety of forms that robotics takes today and at the same time broaden our awareness of the associated ethical, social, and political issues.

    Whether in the form of delivery drones, smart sensors, or Industry 4.0 — in recent years, robotics has found its way into our everyday lives, changing them in fundamental ways. Design has a central role to play in this process, for it is designers who shape the interfaces between humans and machines.

    Nowadays, robots do not just build cars and washing machines or transport us in self-propelled trains from one airport terminal to another, but appear in a host of other forms, ranging from communicative domestic appliances, the so-called Internet of Things, to the self-learning algorithms in computer programmes, known as bots.

    Whereas robotics used to be the exclusive domain of engineers and IT experts, today designers are helping to shape the current boom in robotics in key ways, for it is often they who decide how and where we encounter robots, what kind of relationship we form with them, and how we interact with them – or they with us.

    Will robots really steal our jobs? And if so, when?

    Exhibition tour:
    27.05.2018 – 04.11.2018, Gewerbemuseum Winterthur, Switzerland

    Until Sunday 15.04.2018, Design Museum Gent, Belgium

    Pictures©Vitra Design Museum


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