History of Robots in Arts, Literature and Music

History of Robots in Arts, Literature and Music

The Cultural History of Robots

Since the 20th century, robots have become a frequent and extensive topic, especially in the domain of Science Fiction. While the imagination of an artificially constructed human can be already found in the antiquity, the steady progress in robotics has led to a new explosiveness regarding a technical realized mechanical human. Especially in arts, the relationship between humans and robots is constantly fathomed.

Robots in Literature - Creatures that are created by humans have an extensive history in literature. Famous examples are the Golem, a being created through magic, or the alchemistical created Homunculi. However, the idea of robots in the sense of "mechanical humans" or autonomic mechanical creatures which could be realized through the progress in human sciences was only developed in modern age. In the literature of the 18th century there are examples that indeed describe anthromorphic "automats", which are brought to life through the artistic mechanisms. For instance, E.T.A. Hoffmann describes in "The Automats" from 1819 the history of a mechanical oracle, a story which can be related to the so-called "Chessturk". In the dime novels of the late 19th century there are further examples fictional anthromorphic robots, driven by steam (The Steam Man of the Prairies, of Edwar S. Ellis, 1868). Jules Verne also described a story of a mechanical man. Yet, such creatures are still called "Automats" are the modern term "robot" for humanoid machines or mechanical mens has not yet been vernacularised.

The term "robot", which was marked by Josef Capek, was used the first time by Karel Capek in the drama R.U.R, published in 1921. Thanks to the narratives of Isaac Asimov the term "robot" was soon much more famous and known. In Runaround, published in 1942, Asimov described for the first time the three robotic laws which are still used in contemporary Science Fiction literature.
In 1950 he published with I, Robot a collection of short stories on the subject. Isaac Asimov had faith in progress and saw the robot mostly as a helper in everyday activities and as an assistant who brings people together to fill the Universe, for example, in his short stories, Reason (1941) and Runaround (1942).

The author Ellis Kaut published in 1974 the children's book Schlupp from the green star which is on a small robot from the planet Balda 7/3, which undesirably develops a soul and feelings and is therefore fired on a garbage planet, but instead ends up on the planet earth. The Augsburger Puppenkiste filmed Schlupp 1986 as a puppet play.

Robots in Movies - The 1897 short film created Gugusse et l'Automate of film pioneer Georges Méliès was probably the first time a robot on the silver screen. [4] The movie, which is missing today, is about a dispute between the Clown Gugusse and an "automaton". Published in 1919 in the episode film The Master Mystery by circus artist Harry Houdini there is another early example of the appearance of a robot. The 1921 Italian film L'uomo meccanico published by André Deed was about crooks who put a remote-controlled robot into their power to commit crimes with his help. Among the most famous robot representations in the silent film era is the female Maschinenmensch Era from Fritz Lang's Metropolis in 1927. The first robot, who appeared on TV was, I Tobor in the science fiction series Captain Video and His Video Rangers (from 1949).

Known robot figures of the 1950s are the giant guardian Gort from the film The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet (1956). Robby has appeared in the following years in a number of films and television shows, and also served as a model for many toy robots. The Star Wars Saga (1977-2005) shows with R2D2 and C3PO robots in a comedic role. The two characters are both typical examples for different types of robots: the "protocol droid" C3PO is a humanoid robot, R2D2 is a "astromech droid" without human-like appearance. In the series Star Trek - The Next Generation (1987-1994), the android Data is a commanding officer, who grapples with the question of his own likeness to man. In Number 5 lives, a military robot developed a naive personality. Movies like Terminator and I, Robot offer other known examples of the representation of androids and humanoid robots that are either hostile or a helping hand.

Industrial robots (non-humanoid robots) find their way onto the screen. In films such as James Bond (Die Another Day), Thunderbirds, Tomb Raider - The Cradle of Life and sacrilege KUKA industrial robots were shot. The documentary film Plug & Pray explores the impact of the increasing use of robots in the image of himself. It shows the Japanese robot Geminoid Hiroshi Ishiguro, the Italian or the German iCub mucar-3.

Robots in Arts - The most prominent example of the use of the robot in the visual arts is the group the "Family of Robots," of the Korean video artist Nam June Paik. Back in 1964, Paik collaborated with the Japanese engineer Shuya Abe and produced the robot "K456", which Paik henceforth represented in performances - K456 was involved in the picture the "first accident of the 21st century". In the 1980s, the "Family of Robots", was extended, including first "Mother" and "Father" (1983/86), and later it was extended by several other characters ("Aunt", "Uncle").

SHIFZ is the abbreviated name of the self-association of Austrian artist Syntharturalistische Arts Association. It was founded in 1996 and focused mainly on the relationship between man and machine.

The Japanese illustrator Hajime Sorayama draws female, gleaming chrome robots in lascivious and erotic poses. Thus, the American rock band Aerosmith chose for her 2001 released album Just Push Play a drawing by Hajime Sorayama as album cover.

The work of Swiss artist H.R. Giger, famous for his film design for Ridley Scott's Alien, dominates the term coined by him Biomechanoiden, a fusion of technology and mechanics with the creaturely life. In doing so, Giger profoundly influenced the Fantastic Realism.

Robots and Music - The German electronic music band Kraftwerk ended 1978 with their single "The Robots" on the album The Man-Machine at number 18 in the German charts. Another song on the album was the song "Metropolis", an allusion to the film of the same.

1983 landed the song Mr. Roboto of the band Styx in Germany at No. 8, in the U.S. at number 3 on the charts. It's about a prison, guarded by robots.

The Dance Project The Module published in 1996 the single Robot Robby which is about a lonely robot longing for love (text: "He is looking for a robot bride with silver-gray eyes, to kiss her...").

A song called Paranoid Android has been published in 1997 by the rock band Radiohead.

On their album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots of 2002, the alternative rock band The Flaming Lips sings in the title song about a girl with a black belt in karate, fighting against evil robots.

In the song Coin-operated boy the Dresden Dolls in 2004, to which there is a video clip, Amanda Palmer sings a mechanical puppet boy made of elastic plastic, which is brought to life by using cash. In the video, the robot falls in love with the singer.

The musician Alec Empire published in 2008 on the album The Golden Foretaste of Heaven, the Techno Robot LOVE piece that contains the vocal line "She's a machine trapped in a woman's body".

In the video clip for the song All is full of love of the Icelandic singer Björk in 1999 two kissing white robot are the main characters who sing of love, trust and provenance. Director Chris Cunningham directed the video clip, which was awarded two MTV Video Music Awards and received a Grammy nomination.

Stefan Bach writes about planes, ballooning, cars and other technological innovations such as gizmos and gadgets. He is also interested in jet charter services.