The Esthetics of Encounter: A Relational-Performative Design Approach to Human-Robot Interaction
Frontiers in Robotics and AI
This article lays out the framework for relational-performative esthetics in human-robot interaction, comprising a theoretical lens and design approach for critical practice-based inquiries into embodied meaning-making in human-robot interaction. I explore the centrality of esthetics as a practice of embodied meaning-making by drawing on my arts-led, performance-based approach to human-robot encounters, as well as other artistic practices. Understanding social agency and meaning as being
... through the situated dynamics of the interaction, I bring into focus a process of bodying-thinging; entangling and transforming subjects and objects in the encounter and rendering elastic boundaries in-between. Rather than serving to make the strange look more familiar, aesthetics here is about rendering the differences between humans and robots more relational. My notion of a relational-performative design approach—designing with bodying-thinging—proposes that we engage with human-robot encounters from the earliest stages of the robot design. This is where we begin to manifest boundaries that shape meaning-making and the potential for emergence, transformation, and connections arising from intra-bodily resonances (bodying-thinging). I argue that this relational-performative approach opens up new possibilities for how we design robots and how they socially participate in the encounter.