The Imitation Game (Review)
Let me start off by saying, this is not a review of the film, the one with Benedict Cumberbatch in. This is a review of the exhibition currently running at Manchester Art Gallery, which showcases eight international artists who were given the challenge of exploring ways in which machines can imitate life.
I’ve actually been to this exhibition three times already, which may give you a good indication of how I feel about it. Anyone who knows me, or reads my blog, should know that I’m passionate about the ways that technology can transform art, and I think this exhibition is an example of just how creative, insightful and reflective that transformation can be.
I loved that the pieces were so varied not only from standard depictions of art, but also from one another. I’m going to discuss a couple of my favourite works from this exhibition, but I really loved all the pieces, and would definitely recommend that you go and see them for yourself.
There’s a common allegory about ducks that I’m fond of, which likens hard work to being a duck in water. On the surface, it is elegant and calm, but underneath its legs and kicking away madly. I think this works for art too; thinking complexly and creating something profound, but presenting it simply can get art a lot of impact. Well, Mari Velonaki does just that with Fish-Bird. The two robotic wheelchairs, one Fish and one Bird, are lovers who cannot be together due to technical difficulties. They move about the space sorrowfully, and I instantly felt a part of their relationship. They write sorrowful and heartfelt love letters to each other and the audience, which are scattered about the space for you to pick up and take home with you. The two robots move dynamically, responding to each other and the audience. The longer you stay, the more comfortable they feel and the more intimate they are with each other and with you. Their movement and behaviour are ever-changing, and ever-responding to the situation, and result in a highly complex and unpredictable piece. I loved going back at different times to see how they changed. Yet, for such a complicated algorithm, they seem so still and simple. It’s beautiful.
Am I robot
Paul Granjon’s robot sets an entirely different mood to that of Fish-Bird, but is equally as intriguing. In the lower most gallery of the exhibition this little robot, only a couple of feet tall, rolls around on its wheels and interacts with the visitors. It seems inquisitive, curious, and at times, clumsy. It can follow you around the room and stare at you with it’s one large, round eye, or back away when there’s too many people. It’s outwardly cute demeanour entices visitors, especially children, and is a marvel to be in the presence of. It’s too-small hands and wiry hair grant is a sense of playfulness, and invoke feelings that make it more than just machinery. It talks sometimes too, although it’s voice is not human-like, it does still make you want to talk back.
If you are in Manchester before June 5th, then definitely check out this exhibition. This exhibition brings art out of its shell Not only is it insightful, clever and imaginative, it’s brilliant fun too. Unfortunately, some of the exhibitions I was only able to see in part, as they involve a live performance, but it’s definitely worth a visit. If you’d like to find out more, information can be found on the art gallery website.