Actroid Series I
2015, 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.
...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.
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.
Screenings/Exhibitions (full series)
The Female is Future, Gallery Hashimoto, Tokyo 2018
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
Subtitled Japanese 日本語の字幕
Comfortable and Alive 6-language showcase
A list of screenings and exhibitions of selected videos from Actroid Series I
SHErobots, Tin Sheds Gallery, Sydney 2022
Can You Fuck It? The Fembot Phenomenon, Ningen Gallery & Apex Art, Tokyo 2022
Spectra: Multiplicities, ANAT, Melbourne 2022
Bangkok Art Biennale, Thailand 2020-21
Future and the Arts, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo 2019-20
BioFiction Film Festival, Vienna 2019
Women in Media Technology, Athens 2019
Tribute to the 15 Years of Athens Digital Arts Festival, Athens 2019
Synthetic Mediart, Taipei Expo Park, Taiwan 2019
Stacks and Sleeves, Galerie Pom Pom, Sydney 2019
Festival Nuovo Cinema Europa, Genova 2018
Ex Machina and featured short artist films, New York University, Shanghai 2018
Artificial Intelligence Art and Aesthetics Exhibition, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Japan 2017–18
Athens Digital Arts Festival 2017
Athens Digital Arts Festival tour of Attica and Argosaronic Islands 2017
Cairo Video Festival 2017
Highlights of the Cairo Video Festival, Medrar for Contemporary Art, Cairo 2017
Blue Magpie Experimental Film Series, Taiwan 2017
Pisa Robot Film Festival, Italy 2017
Possible Futures, Simultan Festival, Romania 2017
Alter, Gus Fisher Gallery, Auckland 2016
Juried exhibition, International Symposium on Electronic Art, Run Run Shaw Centre for Creative Media, Hong Kong 2016
REFUGEE!, touring and online program, artvideoKOELN 2016
Film Cunst, Brenda May Gallery, Sydney 2014
...solid explorations into the illusory, gendered nature of hospitality itself.