Techart Conference

| 2022 TechArt Conference |

Session 2: Algorithmic Culture and Sense-Making

Humanlike Beings - Their Burdensome Skin

Roh, Jinah (Kyung Hee University, S. Korea)


Jinah Roh has been making artworks and combining them with technology to create moving sculptures since 2002. She has been invited to numerous solo exhibitions and special exhibitions at various institutions such as the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul Museum of Art, Nam June Paik Art Center, and Gyeonggi Museum of Art.

In this presentation, she wants to tell the story of beings with human-like artificial intelligence, their heavy skin, their emotions and their desires.

The main works of the artist are introduced, and the background, characteristics, and meaning of each work are discussed: ‘You Type, I'll Talk’ (2004), ‘Inanimate Organism’ (2007 – 2009), ‘Geppetto's Dream’ (2010), ‘My Hus Tinman’ (2014), ‘STYX - Prelude to Immortality’ (2017), ‘An Evolving GAIA’ (2017), ‘Mater Ex Machina’ (2019), ‘From Dust You Came, and To Dust You Shall Return’ (2019), ‘Transcoded Shell’ (2019), ‘Themis – Abondoned AI’ (2021), etc.

They are mainly humanoid robots that communicate with the audience through dialogue. When the audience types or speaks, the robots open their mouths and speak by mimicking human actions. The question of life and death, or the boundary between machines and humans, is expressed more strongly in interactive robot works. Because they communicate directly with the audience through dialogue, these robots more actively express their desires. In addition, they try to artificially express their emotions by mimicking human expressions. The machine dreaming of humanization, the machine going through a difficult process to have a human interface, and the artist's work process show opening a new perspective and synesthesia with the machine to the audience who are getting accustomed to artificial intelligence and mechanization. So, in the works she makes, all machines want to become human beings like their destiny. These ‘uncanny’ robots express with human voice, face, and even human emotion. There is such a desire to live mixed with humans with an interface that resembles us like our instinct.

What about the future where we will live in harmony with artificial intelligence robots that can communicate emotionally? Will eventually emotional expression of machines turn into the ARTIFICIAL EMPATHY?


Roh Jinah studied fine arts at Seoul National University and earned her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and PhD in Art & Technology from Sogang University. She is currently an assistant professor at Kyunghee University. Since 2002, she has been working on interactive humanoid robots and real time interactive art works which combine traditional sculpture and new media that interact with audiences. Roh has been interested in humans and nonhumans that have been redefined throughout the development of technological civilization. She translates the technological and philosophical implications of this relationship into a dialog which poses questions about the life of human and machine. Recently, She has been developing works that create emotional machine and it's interface. In this context, she has made emotional robots that can communicate with humans and convey emotion in a more natural fashion using expressions and gestures obtained by deep learning. Her works have been exhibited in major museums including the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, Seoul Arts Center, Seoul Museum of Art and Nam June Paik Art Center.