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Robots at the Queen City Gallery

Danger, Will Robinson

Why are we so attracted to robots? An all-robot show—paintings, drawings, and constructed sculptures, all of robots—is currently at the Queen City Gallery.

Often they’re cute. Think R2D2. Candace Keegan’s cartoon-like robots are cute this way. They are on small canvases, one robot per canvas, emphasizing the cute idea.

But more to the point, robots are simple-minded. We like that. So they can be servants. And we can be masters. Such an appealing idea.

Moreover, since they’re not human, there’s no moral dimension. So, servants that can do our dirty work. And do. Like the drone planes reportedly doing more and more of our killing for us in our Middle East.

Assassination by technology. So clean and neat. Operationally, and in the sense that nobody has to see it. And if we don’t have to see it, we don’t have to think about it.

The centerpiece of the show—and one piece that gets it right—is a large sculpture by Chris Hausbeck of welded metal found parts: pulleys, wheels, support rods, steel cable, Stillson wrench hands, and some kind of binocular eyes, and sporting a rusty World War I helmet with a skull and crossbones painted on it. The piece is called War Droid.

In the publicity photo, War Droid seemed to be gripping some kind of rifle in his wrenchy claws, but he seems to have checked the weapon for the exhibit.

William Herod presents some mock magazine or pulp fiction covers. One for a collection called Amazing Science Fiction Stories, the teaser copy on which promises a story inside called “The Iron Soldier,” described as “a strange tale about the future of warfare.” Maybe it’s about War Droid.

jack foran

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