[ISEA2017] Paper: Treva Pullen — The Return of Wonder: Speculative Robotics and Re-enchanting the Machine


Keywords: Wonder, enchantment, Robotics, Speculative Philosophy, Enlightenment, Metamodern, Art, Lively.

This paper tracks the critique/reconfiguration of wonder as a mode of critical engagement, with our contemporary condition and the current philosophical paradigm shift towards theorizing the nonhuman; a resurgence in speculative wonder. Comparing the aesthetic language and actions of the Steve Daniels’ robotic art work Device for the Elimination of Wonder, 2015, this text unpacks the historical shift from enchantment during the pre-Enlightenment period towards the post-Enlightenment disenchantment of magic, wonder and speculative fiction. Employing Daniels’ Device as a metaphor for an evolution of theory this text draws comparisons between contemporary philosophical trends and the lively, expressive and whimsical creations of robotic art.

  • Treva Pullen is an interdisciplinary researcher, curator, artist and PhD candidate in Communication Studies at Concordia University, Montréal, Canada. Her research explores the playful and agentic capacities of media art through the lens of ‘whimsical bodies’; a term she uses as an evocative metaphor for the lively, humorous and often reciprocally engaging nature of media art objects. Her doctoral studies merge critical theory and curatorial practice based research to explore methods of display for the whimsical bodies presented through bio art; facilitating human nonhuman engagements/learning, and unpacking feminist maker methodologies enacted in bioart laboratories. Her work has been published in The Senses & Society, InterARTive, JAWS and AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples. She has also curated new media based exhibitions such as #NATURE (2016) and Influenc(Ed.) Machines (2015). The author holds an MA from OCAD University in Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Art Histories, with a focus in new media, and a BFA from OCAD University majoring in Criticism and Curatorial Practice. trevapullen.com

Full text (PDF) p. 546-553