We have always been robots: The history of robots and art

Damith HERATH, Stelarc, Christian Kroos

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Although the “robot” is a twentieth century concept, machines that conform to the same definition—are capable of carrying out complex actions automatically—are part of a much longer history. This chapter will provide an overview of this history. It will trace the contemporary emergence of the robot back to the appearance of clockwork and mechanical automata in the early modern period. In so doing, the chapter will make two key contributions to this book’s study of robots and art. Firstly, it will argue that the concept of a robot predates the emergence of the word robot by several centuries, and that our understanding of the contemporary concept is enriched by recognition of this longer history. Secondly, it will show that, from its very inception, the history of robots has been closely entwined with that of art—evident not least in the fact the term itself derives from the context of theatre. This history continues to be reflexively present in contemporary performance.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNetherlands
Number of pages452
ISBN (Electronic)9789811003219
ISBN (Print)9789811003196
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameCognitive Science and Technology
ISSN (Print)2195-3988
ISSN (Electronic)2195-3996


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