Art and Robotics: Freud's Unheimlich and the Uncanny Valley

An International Workshop at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation

Kongresszentrum Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany
May 10, 2013



This full-day workshop at the premier conference for robotics researchers brings together roboticists and artists and theorists to explore past and future relationships between art and robotics. Artworks involving robots have a rich and extensive history dating back to the ancient Greeks, through da Vinci, Jean Tinguely, Nam June Paik, Survival Research Labs, Jonathon Borofsky, and Stelarc. The workshop references Freud's 1919 aesthetic essay on E.T.A. Hoffman's 1816 horror tale The Sandman (which includes an automaton as a central character). Freud's term "Der Unheimliche" is usually translated as "The Uncanny". Freud's concept of the Uncanny is familiar in art history and has been applied to many novels, paintings, sculptures, and films. The term was also applied to a phenomenon noted by Masahiro Mori in 1970 where the human psychological experience of being charmed by animated beings undergoes a steep non-linearity when the animated being is "too close for comfort".

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