This video work captures the possible meeting of two generations of the same ground-breaking robot design called ‘Alter’, developed by Japanese roboticists.
Duration: 6 mins
Justine Emard’s practice explores the emerging relationship between human life and technology. Soul Shift is one of a number of artworks created in Japan since 2016, in collaboration with the renowned scientists Hiroshi Ishiguro (Osaka University) and Takashi Ikegami (Tokyo University). In this video, we witness the possible meeting of two generations of the same ground-breaking robot design called Alter.
The robotics research laboratories at Osaka and Tokyo universities are partners in the Alter project, aiming to understand what it means to be ‘life-like’. These robots have complex neural networks that model a system of 1,000 nerve cells and are able to “learn” life-like actions based on signals received through their sensors. Alter’s physical movements may at first appear haphazard – constantly changing because of underlying algorithms – but through close observation over time, ‘life-likeness’ emerges.
Soul Shift responds to this research paradigm, by pondering the implications of the transference of Alter’s data – developed from its ‘learnt experiences’ – to the next generation, Alter 2. How might this transference of ‘knowledge’ be experienced or understood by Alter 2? Is there a memory in its code, a spirit transferred to Alter 2? A form of reincarnation but without flesh?
Justine Emard creates and captures the encounter between the two generations of robot. By remembering that the actions of the robot are not externally controlled, we are left to wonder if the reactions from Alter 2 are ones of intrigue or even approach recognition and affection to the earlier version of itself.
Justine Emard is a visual artist who lives and works in Paris. Her work explores the new relationships that are being established between our lives and technology.