Eye Contact



    This project was conducted by an interdisciplinary team led by artist Yukyeom Kim, including researchers from neuroscience and computer science.

    The artist was interested in the most subjective and emotional types of relationships that humans can form with mechanical beings and non-humans. Hence the team’s goal is to investigate the interplay between human emotions and human-like behaviors reproduced by machines, in the context of evolving technology and the robotics industry. As the supply of robots that function with greater efficiency than humans becomes a reality, humanity is once again experiencing unease and apprehension about its existence.

    However, as can be seen from the issue with Boston Dynamics' industrial dog robot (a video was posted on social media showing a developer kicking a quadrupedal robot made by Boston Dynamics to test its stability, and many viewers expressed discomfort with this action),  the team explores the potential for humans to make emotional relationships even towards non-human entities. The team used the alternative theory of Lisa Feldman Barrett, which posits that the human brain creates emotions using external experiences and existing concepts as materials, as a starting point for our project.

    Electronics artist, Yukyeom Kim, created an installation that sets off the audience's emotions, specifically focusing on the fundamental behavior of eye contact. By designing robots that either engage in or avoid eye contact, Yukyeom aims to explore the depth of emotional connections formed between humans and mechanical beings.
Neuroscientist Hayoung Song, who studies the process of how subjective human experiences are represented in the brain, advised and presented an experimental environment that can analyze the types of experiences this installation will set off and the actual reactions of the audience.

    This project will go through the stages of research, creation of the installation, and analysis of audience data. Combining the languages of science and art can help alleviate the anxiety shared by people of the era and explore the next steps, providing an experience where everyone can intuitively connect with ideas that may be abstract and complex.

**The project is sponsored and supported by  Art+Science+Culture Initiative of Uchicago.