If a robot could dream, fall in love, feel pain, and even make art, must we fear it as in Hollywood depictions or might we celebrate its dreams instead? In a future where this is possible, let us consider what a sentient elevator might think about, dream about, or sing about. What would the Elevator’s Music be?
These are the questions that artist Fernando Orellana wants us to consider as we experience his robotic sound installation in the Tang Museum's elevator. Mixing art and science, Orellana has installed four servo-driven mechanisms within the elevator's translucent ceiling. The four robots include small speakers for the output of sound and sonic sensors for sensing their world.
Each has the capacity to open its own door in the elevator's ceiling, extend itself into the elevator's space, "look around" and respond differently in song depending upon the behavior of the humans it carries.
Orellana says that “viewers quickly – and probably unconsciously – begin to anthropomorphize the robots, automatically assigning associations such as fear to them. My robots don’t feel anything, but they simulate it. I’m really interested in that: Creating the illusion and the simulation of emotions.”