Machines’ Sense of Self

Exhibition on digitalization and robotics to be held on Bielefeld University’s North Campus

The “Ich digi Du” art exhibition presents the big dreams and aspirations attached to the technologies of the past – and the future. Some of the machines in the artworks are purely functional; others behave in a human-like way, or follow a logic all their own. In their installations, films, and photographs, the artists also allowed themselves be inspired by technological research conducted at Bielefeld University. The Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) will host this exhibition in the CITEC Building on Bielefeld University’s North Campus. The opening night of the exhibition will take place on Thursday, 6 October, at 6PM in the foyer of the CITEC Building.

The “Ich digi du” exhibition interrogates the relationship between humans and machines. Antje Löbel’s images explore the power of humans over machines, as well as humans’ simultaneous dependency on technology. Photo: Antje Löbel. This exhibition is part of this year’s theme of “Body Culture: Beauty. Hygiene. Self-Image” at the museums of Ostwestfalen-Lippe. For this year’s theme, Imke Brunzema, from the art association “Die Gestalten” (The Designers), together with “teutolab-robotik” from Bielefeld University, called for artists in the region of Ostwestfalen-Lippe to depict their hopes and fears about robotics and digitalization. A central question here is how intelligent technical systems such as robots can serve as a digital complement to humans. This in turn leads to the question of what consequences “living together” with technology can have for one’s own identity. Work from five artists was selected for this exhibition.

“Technical developments spark our imagination,” says Professor Dr. Helge Ritter, Coordinator of the Cluster of Excellence CITEC. “When we imagine how in the future a robot might work in the home, we are also thinking about living together with this digital domestic helper. We would surely treat the robot differently than we would a human. And simply because of the robot’s presence, we would probably behave differently than if we were alone.” In their work, the artists contemplate how technical systems can
impact daily life. “The exhibition fits well with CITEC because it looks at the future of technology. At CITEC, we are researching what we can learn from how humans interact with one another, and apply this knowledge to interaction with machines in order to create smart, “thinking” technology. In the exhibition, the artists’ work speculates on the sense of self machines of the future might form. Visitors can watch the animated film “Ich robo” (I robot) by Maria Kübeck, for instance, which shows a robot that constructs itself out of individual parts.

Artist Antje Löbel illustrated E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1815 short story “The Sandman.” The first part of her images depicts the deception experienced by the main character Nathanael. The view through his perspective (represented with a telescope) restricts his view into reality, rather than expanding it. The second part of the images takes place in the present. The stage-like, virtual world in which Nathanael now appears encompasses him completely, turning him into an android. Angelika Höger’s work plays with the ideas of failed communication, ageing technologies, and empathy. Her experimental installations occupy small areas in the CITEC foyer and react to people as they pass by. Höger’s idea behind this project is that “Maybe technical devices have actually been trying to communicate with us for a long time, and we just haven’t noticed?” Iris Friedrich’s photographs focus on nature as a source of ideas for technology. Her photographs represent a contradiction: in terms of its functionality, technology approximates nature, but technology is, visually speaking, removed from nature. Finally, with her miniature stage photography, artist Viola Friedrich addresses robotic technology of the 1960s, staging a love affair in a secret institute.

“Ich digi du” builds upon the art exhibition of the same name, which was shown in early 2016 in the Raumstation (a project from “Die Gestalten”) in Bielefeld. The “Ich digi du” exhibition will be on display through the end of January 2017, from Monday – Friday, 8AM – 7PM in the CITEC Building. In February 2017, the exhibition “Der Apfel fällt nicht weit” (The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far) will be on show again in the CITEC Building, in which analog-film photographs by Janosch Boerckel depict the technologies being developed and the research taking place at CITEC.

Representatives of the media are invited to attend and report on the opening night on 6 October. The artists will be present from 5:30PM onwards to discuss their work.

More Information is Available Online at:
Project information of Raumstation (Spacestation): digi-du.html
Exhibition information from „teutolab-robotik“: http://www.uni-
CITEC news on the exhibition „Der Apfel fällt nicht weit“ (The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far): https://cit-

Alicia Weirich, Bielefeld University,
Hands-on and experimental lab „teutolab-robotik“
Telephone: 0521 106-67108