In the Valley of the Uncanny: Humans and Humanoids
UnionDocs (322 Union Ave., Brooklyn)
$9 suggested donation
Artist Laurie O’Brien, filmmaker Allison de Fren, neuroscientist Asif Ghazanfar & artist John Bell will be in attendance for presentations and a discussion following moderated by Cabinet editor D. Graham Burnett. This event was organized by Toby Lee.
Puppets, robots, cyborgs, sex dolls, automata. These not-quite-human beings alternately – sometimes simultaneously – attract, move and repulse us, populating the social landscape as our toys, our tools, our companions and our fantasies.
In the 1970s, Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori first used the term “The Uncanny Valley” to describe the profoundly unsettling sense of the non-human in these human-like beings. Building on Freud’s definition of the uncanny as the feeling of strangeness in something familiar, Mori’s theories have since become influential in fields as diverse as puppetry, psychology, animation and video games.
Our guests take us on a tour of the Uncanny Valley, exploring the horrors as well as the pleasures of the not-quite-human. John Bell traces a history of the uncanny in puppetry; Allison de Fren shares her short documentary on robot fetishists; Asif Ghazanfar discusses his research on the Uncanny Valley effect among monkeys; and Laurie O’Brien introduces us to Toby the Puppet. Together, they examine and indulge in the enduring human fascination with the humanoid.