ROBOTS – METALLIC VISIONS OF THE FUTURE

The cultural imagery of the Space Age envisions rockets, flying saucers, space stations, space men and space women. It also includes robots. In science fiction robots navigate spaceships; they travel with space explorers to unknown galaxies; they help build outposts on distant moons. Robots are emblematic of the future, portending a time when metallic servants will free humans from physical toil and dangerous work. But robots are a mixed bag. Something scary lurks behind their mechanical faces. Robots hold up a mirror to our humanity. They mimic our features and remind us of similarities and differences between living creatures and machines. During the early Space Age children played with toy robots.  In the 1950s and 1960s advertising robots pointed the way to a “modern” lifestyle. During the 1970s no bachelor pad was complete without a remote controlled robotic butler. Outside radio stations and car dealerships glistening robots beckoned to passersby. Folk art robots by the side of the road still point the way to auto repairs and farm produce.