Christian Pentzold

The article looks at artistic impressions of future robotics and considers how they inspire research into human–machine interaction. Our analysis of visual scientific practices and the epistemic ramifications of these speculative drawings emerges from a long-term participant observation study in a multi-disciplinary project on smart and autonomous technologies in public spaces. We discuss the design, appropriation and modulation of visual scenarios and scrutinize how these diegetic futurescapes are imaginatively engaging and suggestive of scientific progress and experimentation. We argue that the future-oriented scenes defy common notions of post hoc scientific representations. Instead, they are ex ante presentations of the ambition to imagine human–machine relations in the future and to draw the large-scale research venture together. The register of evaluation thereby shifts from aesthetic criteria to scientific parameters. More than just visual tokens, the scenarios became a catalyst for collaboration. The full article can be read here.