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Photos: ROBOTS and ARTS (Museum Exhibits)

The Aomori Museum of Art (hosted 7/10 ~ 8/29), the Shizuoka Prefectural Museum (hosting 9/18 ~ 11/7), and the Shimane Art Museum (hosting 11/20 ~ 2011.1/10), collaborated to put together a robot-themed art show.  The “ROBOTS and ARTs:  Visual Images in the 20th Century Japan” exhibit includes robot-themed sculptures, plastic model kits, tin toys, one-off robot figurines, movie and game paraphernalia, and a selection of real robots as well.

In 1924, a translated version of R.U.R (Rossum’s Universal Robots) was performed at the Tsukiji Little Theater in Tokyo, and a robot named “Gakutensoku” was exhibited at the 1928 Imperial Throne Ascension Memorial Exposition in Kyoto. Following the war, the robot became an integral part of popular culture. Robots were not only a motif used in works of entertainment like manga and anime, but were developed in serious literature that dealt with themes of humanism and at times, disestablishmentarianism. The concept of robots had an enormous effect on researchers, designers, and artists in various present-day fields. This exhibit aims to shed light on the mutual connection of science, technology, and art, as well as the physical form of human beings, by examining the robot, as a major motif born in the 20th century.

An original anime dvd was produced specifically for this event (directed by Romanov Higa), and a companion guide was also printed.  The set was 3,675 JPY ($44 USD), but only 150 copies were made (and sold out quickly).  Unfortunately the museum has not shared the video online, but you can see some character model sheets here.

The exhibition catalog (2,625 JPY [$30 USD]) contains photos and details of the exhibits and articles about the history of robots in popular culture post-WWII (Japanese only) and a papercraft robot.

A detailed figurine of the hovering robotic bike featured in the animated short was also created.  Cute, huh?  Maybe someone should try to build one for real (with wheels, of course).

Real robots, including Murata Manufacturing’s bicycling robot Murata Boy, and ROBO-GARAGE’s NEON (a nod to Astro Boy, middle) and Manoi PF01 (background) were exhibited.

On July 24th Mr. Shudo Akira, an artist  hailing from Hokkaido known for creating metallic sculptures (see another exhibit here), turned the museum into a robot factory with the help of some volunteers.  Participants who signed up got to help build a robot statue out of steel plates.  They carefully hit the prefabricated plates with mallets to create a smooth finish, then used sand paper to create subtle patterns on the surface.

The proud participants gather around as Mr. Shudo proceeded to weld the parts together one after another, and the robot gradually took shape.

Mr. Shudo stands next to his finished creation, who’s steely gaze is slightly reminiscent of a samurai helmet.  The finishing touches, including the internal lamps, were installed and by 9 o’clock in the evening the project was completed.  The post robot was exhibited in the museum’s lobby for the rest of the show.

A statue of Temjin, one of the robot fighters from SEGA’s Virtual On arcade video game series, with two of the game’s designers.  Some more photos can be found on the Virtual On XBOX 360 blog (JP).

Right foreground: Posy and (left) Palette (Flower Robotics), far background: the tendon-driven robot Kenta (Tokyo University JSK Lab).  Flower Robotics not only exhibited robots, but also opened their Flower Shop at the Museum to offer their robot rentals and business products.

Artist Kenji Yanobe exhibited one of his works (view more examples here).

Artist Hiroshi Araki is known for his mechanical artwork.  He exhibited his “King of audio and the two Goodman Speakers” (1993).  He has also produced life-sized statues of Astro Boy and other robot-like creations (see his portfolio here).

“Dr. Robot” Aizawa Zirou’s retro robots also made the trip (more here).

Lots of cool artwork and the inclusion of real robots makes this one of the coolest gallery showings I’ve come across.  Thankfully the museum’s website has shared all of the above photographs for those of us who can’t see the exhibit in person (see source link below).

[source: Robot-Art official site (JP)] & [more coverage: Mycom Journal (JP)]

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Image credit:
Aomori Museum of Art: Robot-Art official site (JP)

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