From Metropolis to Sorayama and A.I.


The utopian Cyborg woman survives in every area of our lives, not only in the figurative arts. Just think of the enveloping voices of SIRI and ALEXA, the same ones we also find in Spike Jonze's 'HER' - whose name recalls Lang's 'HEL'.

The robot woman is almost 200 years old, yet she still fascinates.

It all began in 1927, when the German director Fritz Lang presented to the world the first Sci-Fi film in the history of cinema, set in a dystropic future; more precisely, 2026.

We are clearly talking about the absolute masterpiece “Metropolis”, the film that inspired future cult movies such as Blade Runner, Star Wars and Brazil (just to name a few); and introduced the unprecedented character of the Robot-Woman.

She, ruthless and beautiful, is in total contrast to the reassuring female heroine known up to that time.

This new image will refer to artists, designers, musicians, scientists for over a hundred years since its birth, entering the collective imagination as an ideal type of sensuality without feelings to which to be inspired.

In the hundred years to follow, the citations – more or less direct – to ‘HEL‘, the cyborg woman of Metropolis, are countless and it would be impossible to mention them all.

We will dwell in particular on the works of Hajime Sorayama – the Japanese artist who in the 80’s created the Cyber Woman, which has become the icon of his illustrative art – and on the new image of the Robot woman, that of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)

His fame as an illustrator of erotic Robot Women in Pin Up poses, also exhibited at the Moma in NY, cannot be traced in mere “luck“: the model created by Lang reinforced an illusory representation of the woman who responds to a practical and aesthetic function, tireless and adoring.

The Tokyo-based artist’s mission was precisely to unhinge the concept of the Robot Woman‘s aesthetic and practical function, to make her a subject for adoration – rather than adoring – responding only to the need to show up beautiful, sexually uninhibited and proud.

Sorayama’s cybernetic woman is fashionable and worldly, to the point of having an entire Dior collection and a giant statue dedicated to her at the French fashion show.

The harmonious silhouette of her metallic body, the eroticism of her firm breasts, her tapered legs and sinuous movements return, but in the end she never left: the utopian Cyborg woman survives in every area of our lives, not only in the figurative arts.

Just think of the enveloping voices of SIRI and ALEXA, the same ones we also find in Spike Jonze’s ‘HER’ – whose name recalls Lang’s ‘HEL’.

The imagery that began with Lang, continues in the design of artificial intelligence (AI), still anchored – tooth and nail – to the Robot Woman: many automata are designed to function as maids, personal assistants or museum guides, vibrating their own warm voices to be interrogated for anything.

Also, most engineers are men, believing that designing a beautiful female body is more “functional” than a male version.

But the reason that really started the trend, as University College of London social anthropologist Kathleen Richardson argues in her book “An Anthropology of Robots and AI: Annihilation Anxiety and Machines” is because female AIs are perceived as less threatening and friendly, as well as being aesthetically pleasing to the eye and more subjectable.

We started with Fritz Lang‘s ruthless robot woman, born in an era when women were the reassuring and sweet queens of the hearth.

And then we continue with the eroticized vision of the Cyberg Pin Up by Hajime Sorayama, born in an era in which the sexualized objectification of the female body made its way into society, until it was definitively legitimized in the contemporary world.

Until you get to the friendly robotic assistants of artificial intelligence (A.I), born in an era in which women are strongly independent, and perhaps – for this reason – not very reassuring.

A few experts say marriage will be legal between humans and robots by 2050.

Well, we do not know what will be the future evolution of the Robot-Woman, one thing is certain: she will survive forever.

WORDS: Manuela Palma



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