Kirsty Hassard: 'The exhibition takes an optimistic view, where robots and humans work alongside one another'
- David Pollock
- 5 November 2019
Curator of V&A Dundee's new exhibition Hello, Robot tells us more about the design links between people and machine
In 2019, the word 'robot' takes on a new, wide-ranging and potentially more sinister meaning than it did during those 20th century days of sci-fi machines with strangely human characteristics. You can meet one of those classic robots here in the shape of Star Wars' R2-D2, but as those who have seen the last two major exhibitions at V&A Dundee might expect, this new show will dig thoroughly through the history and the contemporary applications of robotics, including the way Artificial Intelligence is colonising even the simplest of our everyday devices.
'Hello, Robot looks at the relationship which humans have with robotics, and how design is helping to achieve that,' says Kirsty Hassard, curator of the show for V&A Dundee (the original exhibition is a collaboration between Germany's Vitra Design Museum, MAK Vienna and Design Museum Gent with Dundee's slightly adapted version the only touring stop it will have in Britain). 'Unlike other robotics exhibitions which have been seen in the past, which tend to be chronological and retrospective, this one is more thematic and probing.'
The show itself is split, explains Hassard, into four parts. 'The first looks at how we first encounter robots, which for most people is through science fiction or popular culture, such as film, television, comics or music. These experiences help shape our opinions of robots. This part is a more familiar museum set-up, but already the show begins to ask us questions about our relationships with robots.' Here is where the crowd-pleasers appear such as R2-D2 and an original poster from Fritz Lang's 1927 classic Metropolis. But as the exhibition progresses, the themes become more current; the second section, for example, is about automation in the workplace. 'This idea of robots taking our jobs is a theme that's present in the media at the moment,' says Hassard, 'but the exhibition takes an optimistic view, which is to say that the relationship is a collaborative one, where robots and humans work alongside one another.'