Actroid Series I
2014, HD video, 6-work series
"Elena Knox’s development of machinic mediation in her work is forging new, profoundly affecting connections between humanoid robotics, performance and feminist aesthetics.
The fem-bot is usually unable to speak for herself. All across the mythological landscape she is possessed and passive... not part of the conversation.
Actroid Series I presents the world-first made-for-video scripted scenes of an Actroid being verbal: the gynoid ‘speaks its mind’. She, or it, or she, performs her own critique.
The videos performatively provoke the urgent revision of an aesthetic stereotype that is currently being reinscribed at the frontline of high-tech humanoid R+D.
Six installed performance videos feature Actroid-F, or Geminoid-F, a very humanlike robot developed in 2011 by Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories in Osaka, Japan. The videos wittily deconstruct the robot’s stereotypic performance of the gendered 'hostess'.
The series continues Knox’s pioneering embodied critique of the aesthetic evolution of the service gynoid. It focuses on the social future of fem-bots, specifically anxieties about ageing and mortality (Pathetic Fallacy), sexual services (Canny), robots taking people's jobs (Occupation), cyborg monstrosity (Lamassu Kentaurosu Wagyu), ethnic borders (Radical Hospitality), and brainwashing (Comfortable and Alive).
Actroid Series I formed part of a practice-based PhD at UNSW Art & Design. It was supported by an Australian Postgraduate Award. The research received the Dean's Award for Outstanding Research, 2014. It is created with collaborators as listed under the separate works.
Working with Actroid-F was made possible by Mari Velonaki through the Creative Robotics Lab, National Institute for Experimental Arts, with the permission of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan.
The unique opportunity to film the android made the project original, but it was also refreshingly original in its feminist approach to several theoretical discourses (Baudrillard, Derrida) that are often under-analysed from this perspective.
Beyond Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, UNSW Galleries, Sydney 2015
Beyond Beyond the Valley of the Dolls visitor walkthrough experience
Reviewed in Das Superpaper | Contemporary Art
...simply stunning in its scale and impact. ... This was no one-dimensional feminist critique but a clever and eye-opening analysis of a techno-dystopian future in which gendered clichés return in oddly disturbing forms. Drawing on a deep engagement with feminism, performance practice/theory and also the robotics lab where the Geminoids are produced, Elena presented a powerful, visually sumptuous set of works, quite unlike anything seen before.
...solid explorations into the illusory, gendered nature of hospitality itself.