2018 Theme: I AM a Robot!
The Concept: The Ghost in the Machine
2018 marks 200 years since Frankenstein’s monster took his first steps into sci-fi immortality.
Mary Shelley’s startling vision of synthetic life laid bare the question of what makes us truly human, a question that has haunted subsequent fictions of robots, cyborgs, and androids.Today, with artificial intelligences emerging from every corner of our daily lives – learning, adapting, interpreting, reacting, as we do – the line distinguishing human from robot becomes increasingly vague. Affirming our identity,we check the box that says “I am not a robot.” but how can we be so sure? Perhaps we are merely the best of all possible simulations?
The literary canon of the robot, from Asimov’s prototypical “mechanical men” to Bladerunner’s replicants, dwells in that precarious moment when artificial life becomes self-aware. Ultimately, our fascination with robots lies less in how they surpass us (faster, stronger, smarter) than in how they approach us (feeling, wondering, dreaming). Our dread of the Singularity, the fateful turning point of human obsolescence, is exceeded only by our aspiration to create a perfect simulacra of ourselves. We seek– in all our Iron Giants and R2D2s, our Wall-Es and Datas, our HALs and Alexas – a kind of idealized mirror-self, purified by its very artifice (“more human than human” as Bladerunner’s Tyrell boasts of his creations). The Narcissistic desire to see ourselves transposed into animate objects – or lately, disembodied voices, eyes, and ears – is the same impulse that has always inspired the artist, the puppeteer, and even the mythical Creator.
So this year, The Village Halloween Parade celebrates what makes us human by exploring how we remake ourselves. For our part, we will deploy a floating phalanx of cybernetic figures, each tethered by glowingwires to its human controller to evoke the increasingly complex strands of identity that entangle man with machine. We invite all of our Halloween makers and marchers to join our positronic collective, expressing your inner cyborgs for an evening of robotic revelry.
Artistic and Producing Director
Alex Kahn & Sophia Michahelles