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Mr. Roboto

February 24–June 30, 2024

Guest Curator: Virginia San Fratello and Eleanor Pries


Generous support for the robotic programming at SJSU is provided by the College of Humanities & Arts Artistic Excellence Programming Grant.

Robots are our partners in the future. This exhibit showcases a collection of design activities and experiments by students at San José State University, as they test the creative possibilities of collaborating with a robot.

Innovative designers have the opportunity to advance design, craft, and customization using industrial robots. These robotic explorations are unprecedented learning opportunities that teach students about cutting-edge content creation and fabrication methods that will allow designers to transform the professions and industries to which they will bring their robotic expertise. This means opening the door to the future of craft and design to the next generation and giving them the space, skills, and imagination to explore new activities and job opportunities.

The experiments shown in the exhibition engage the robot across multiple disciplines and media: calligraphy, photography, 3D-light painting, 3D-printing, and stop-motion animation. With faculty and guest design collaborators Jonathon Anderson, Madeline Gannon, Andrew Kudless, and the Gramazio Kohler Research Group, students explored questions such as: How can we design a 3D pathway for light in space? Can light feel tangible, more like a solid material? Can we 3D-print flexible and porous “textiles”? In film production, what if a robot were the cameraman? Can a robot craft a new type of letterform?

The robot is the student’s partner and hand in design. Like any tool, a robot poses its own set of skills, rules, and even quirks to learn and leverage, but unlike many other tools, robots have muscle memory and computational memory that expand our ability to design and create as humans. We are excited to be at the forefront of a promising world where humans and robots can craft a future together. For our students, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship and for that, thank you very much Mr. Roboto for helping us escape where we needed to.


Image: Nathan Shehadeh, Architecture of Light, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.

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