The complex relationships between humans and their robot counterparts are at the heart of a film festival at the Normal Theater this week.
The Arts Tech Film Fest: Robots! features five films, each with a different take on robot technology and how humans relate to it. Rick Valentin from the Illinois State University Arts Technology Department programmed the festival with an eye to exploring our fears and excitement towards robots in our lives. And while motion pictures for many years depicted robots as something that we would encounter in some far off future time, the future is actually now, noted Valentin.
"It feels like it's a couple of weeks away, as opposed to fifty years away or a hundred years away. This is one of the huge things we're talking about right now. We've been promised robots for a long time. And people have had a chance to get used to the idea, and through these films in the festival, they've explored a lot of thoughts and possible scenarios because of these films. But now, it doesn't seem so much like fiction, more like what's going to happen when I have a robot housemate or I have a self-driving car."
According to Valentin, science fiction is a great outlet for exploring the conflicting ideas we have about robots -- how they can help, confuse, kill, and most of all make us think about what it means to be human. "Our near future could have us becoming hybrid creatures," said Valentin. "We already have artificial limbs and artificial organs. So that idea of enhancing the human body and when does something stop being human and start being machine -- I think that issue will start to become more and more contentious and upfront and a real life issue much sooner than we expect."
The Arts Tech Film Fest includes:
April 4 - Forbidden Planet
April 5 - Blade Runner: The Final Cut
April 6 - Westworld
April 7 - WALL-E (7 PM) and RoboCop (10 PM)
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