Nate Rehm-Daly Fine Arts Senior Thesis Project
Haverford College. Department of Fine Arts
Place of Publication
Table of Contents
As technology changes, how do the ways we represent ourselves change? How do we represent ourselves in our artificial creations? As the boundaries between ourselves and robots become less clear, what does it mean to be human? Moreover, what defines a robot as a robot? I am interested in the ways that technology enables us to evolve, to change, and, most importantly, to create. The origin of the word technology comes from the Greek τέχνη (techne), which, translated into English, means “art, skill, cunning of hand.” Technology fundamentally relates to creation, and humans are creating beings. Through our creations, which often involve self-replication, we form human simulacra. These simulacra are often meant to be identified immediately with “humanness.” but sometimes they are created to be estranging and “other,” often through their material composition. These simulacra manifest themselves in different forms; I am particularly interested in how we replicate ourselves in robots. A robot can be made of anything, but their creation or composition tends to involve an element foreign to human biology. We have considered the idea of the robot many times over, in films like Blade Runner and in novels such as Frankenstein. Most robot literature is concerned with a fear of humans being usurped by robots, placing an emphasis on their otherness. I am interested in what will happen when these boundaries become less clear and the difference between creator and created becomes less evident. In the face of such efficient simulacra, what does it mean to be human? My work explores the creator and the created in a way that blurs the lines between what it means to be naturally born versus manufactured. In my work, I seek to instill life into cold, fabricated metal pieces; the forms of these metal parts relate to our cultural vision of what constitutes a robot. I also cast parts of my body in bronze to reference the visual language of humanness and the idea of self-replication. I combine these human and artificial forms to explore my interest in how we represent ourselves in this robotic “other.” My work explores the relationship between human and machine, metal and flesh, natural and artificial, and the connections between ourselves and our creations.