ATC Lecture — Margaret Rhee, "In Search for My Robot": Emergent Media, Racialized Gender, and Creativity

Colloquium | February 24 | 6:30-8 p.m. | Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Osher Theater

 Margaret Rhee, Assistant Professor, SUNY Buffalo; Visiting Scholar, NYU

 Center for New Media, Department of Ethnic Studies, Department of Comparative Literature, Arts + Design

Robots, like any technology, are not "objective" or "universal"; Instead, machines reveal the process of social formation. This talk demonstrates how difference--such as race, gender, and sexuality--are shaped by and co-constitutive with technological developments. Specifically, this talk illustrates how the robot is a primary locus of racialization for Asian Americans within modernity’s distinction between humans and machines.

Drawing from examples such as nineteenth century editorial cartoons of Chinese automatons, the 1960s robotic art of artist Nam June Paik, and contemporary developments of artificial intelligence, this lecture introduces the concept of the Asian and/as Automaton. While the machine demarcates racialized gender, Asian American artists have also recalibrated race by way of the robot. Through new media and creative interventions, the robot also offers possibilities of freedom. Not only has race been shaped by technology, but technology has always been imbued with the politics of difference.

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