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Settler (2015)


We are at the border region between what is human and what is artificial. At the frontier of the live and the dead. Otto Szabó’s installation raises questions about both current and timeless issues: current when questioning if robotics and artificial intelligence have reached the limits of their explosive, exponential development; and timeless if we, at this point, have to stop and once more face the most fundamental questions – what makes humans human? Is life a value in its own right? Are humans at the center of creation? Does the soul exist? Of course, the list could go on and on with questions which could never be answered by any thinking creature on the planet so far. Since the beginning, humans have been creating machines in order to substitute themselves. Initially we only used them for one specific task, and later more and more functions were added. Nowadays the fact that the direction of progress points towards humanoid robots is not science fiction: it’s our reality. Ottó Szabó’s planter represents the world after humans. He brings out light from darkness and infertility: he is the post-human farmer. Watching him in action makes us think: why do we believe that life can only be placed between organic, biochemical frames? What makes life possible? What differentiates us from machines? Intellect? The soul? Are these two the same, or do they originate from each other? If consciousness awakens in that big apocalyptic pile of ruins that humans will leave behind, how will it be a different individual from humans? Intellect will necessarily produce the same questions, for which we have not been able find the answers, nor even pose properly. Every mind hits the same walls. We can stare at Robotto’s rusty settler, as it aspires towards pointless goals, as a mechanical Sisyphus, but we cannot deny that we come to halt just as numbly as this figure does when we bump into these questions.


/Mátyás Falvai writer/

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