DAN ROSE FACES 2020
Dan Rose has published another artist book. This one, FACES, is a group of invented portraits that delve into, visually fiddle with, and vainly try to comb over the thinning hair spots of robots—and ask:
What are we to make of the evolving relationship between human and robosapiens?
Dan’s images toy with questions that we humans need to answer: How do the robots feel about answering Turing-related questions? Do they like or dislike having portraits made of them?
Dan’s own words PRE-FACE the series:
The faces drawn here are humans and robots without distinguishing which is which. Although humans have invented robots, it is also the case that machines have, in turn, profoundly affected human life. Together through the World Wide Web, both species make up a sprawling set of interconnected and co-evolving communities. These communities alter each other and together, increasingly, but not yet rationally, manage the entire material world, the atmosphere, the land and seas.
Homo sapiens sapiens co-evolves with Robo sapiens sapiens.
Can humans and robots form a global intentional community? The answer must surely have to be yes. A first intention of the collective task would be to identify all significant global data sources, model them temporarily and spatially and then manage the affected physical processes of Earth and its evolution. A second intention would be to foster the self-conscious project of accelerating the evolution of all that exists toward desired futures. This suggests that humans must begin to decide what they want to become.
Since the faces drawn here cannot be exclusively assigned to either human or robot they anticipate a Turing Test for robots: Can machines be built that look, feel, and act like a human such that the observer cannot tell the difference between human and robot? Will it be easier to convince a human than to persuade a robot which one of the two is human?
Clearly, Dan the anthropologist addresses the gravity that surrounds the in parallel intent of FACES in those few paragraphs. His sober concrete words contrast with the humoresque flavor to the drawings themselves which feature hybrids of human and robot that have personality up the: _____?
- a. toggle switch
- b. antennae
- c. pop rivet
- d. hair replacement insert
- e. none of the above.
FACES differs from the rest his work only in that it focuses entirely on imagined portraits. A few of these are self-portraits because they are recognizably so if only for the mischievous eyes. The continuum depicted from humanoid to pure machine features the humanness in robot, or robotness in human is not abruptly differentiated. The “signs of life” in the robots are the human emotions expressed: furtive glances, reactions to jokes, (a bad pun, perhaps), or the surprise on a face that has just gotten the check when the credit card won’t cover it.
Not surprisingly, some of the portraits will probably evoke in viewers some of the archetypal human emotions we have long associated with robots: fear, bewilderment, and dismay.
With these drawings and their thematic probe of perhaps short-term unanswerable questions, Dan has breached, no matter how blithely, the realm of Douglas Hofstaeder’s GOEDEL ESCHER BACH strange loops, the domain of the increasingly thin membrane between what defines human and robot, where human intuition is still what separates us from machine. The logic systems and axiomatic hierarchies that direct robotic behavior—though bewildering to contemplate—are self-referential and are likely always to be so, alhough the Singularity described by Ray Kurzweil when, in 2045, human and intelligent machine will be indistinguishable and their combined intelligence will expand a billion-fold is rapidly approaching.
The graphic excellence of FACES is at the same level as DRAWINGS, which won an American Institute of Graphic Arts award last year. The printed output very closely and uncannily resembles his drawing media, where even close scrutiny with a magnifying loupe is required to differentiate them from the originals. The materials listed in the glossary impart unique flavor to this artist book edition. They include found objects and random one-of-a-kind handmade elements that are tipped into the book making each of the limited edition 100 copies unique, though related thematically to the whole set.