Theory: Can We Fall in Love With a Machine?
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Session Chair of
Can We Fall in Love With a Machine?
Panel for Artspace Section of 94th Annual Conference in Boston,
February 2225, 2006

Michael Century, Dr. Beth Coleman, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Ellen Levy, Dr. Judith Rodenbeck, Dr. James H. Rubin, Dr. Sherry Turkle, Dr. Mari Velonaki

CAA 94th Annual Conference Boston

Can We Fall in Love With a Machine?
The Theme of Pygmalion in the Age of Simulation

The classical myth of Pygmalion and Galatea runs deep in the history of both art and love. An isolated sculptor creates a beautiful statue mirroring unconscious amorous passions so heated that they ignite her, now endowed with life. In recent art, we begin to witness a parallel phenomenon, attempts to embody rather than just represent a virtual being. In parallel, the unpredictable landscape of human psychology, long considered the terrain of art, has become a significant aspect of cybernetics and artificial intelligence research. In this context, artists create images with astonishing verisimilitude and that may also react and respond to a user, evoking and sometimes employing emerging technologies such as evolutionary robotics, autonomous artificial organisms, and biomorphic engineering to simulate the emotions. In an era when representations are capable not only of reflecting our amorous desires but also of emoting in return, Can We Fall in Love with a Machine? poses a question to a panel of new media artists, theorists and art historians. It does so not out of a sense of awe in the face of new technologies, but to once more question what it might mean to be human in an age of simulation.