New Article: Whimsical Bodies and Performative Machines: Aesthetics and Affects of Robotic Art

Treva Michelle Pullen

Published Online: 2017-12-29 | DOI:


This article explores the ways in which robots’ behaviours are designed and curated to elicit reactions from their human counterparts. Through the work of artists such as Nam June Paik, Steve Daniels, Edward Ihnatowicz and Norman White, a survey of robotic art illustrates a particular aesthetic and behavioural language that is non-threatening, animalistic, cute, quaint and whimsical. Considering the artists’ programming of behaviours and construction of aesthetics, the use of animal behavioural modelling, and developments in social robotics, this article unpacks how meaning is inscribed onto robots and in return how affect is transmitted to human viewers. By exploring the whimsical bodies, performative machines and networked nonhumans brought forth in robotic artworks, this article draws out how aesthetic and behavioural languages of robotic art play into peoples’ emotional and affective encounters with them.

Featured Image Credits: Belen jsadvbgha, wall-e| Courtesy of Flickre

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