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200 Words—We, Robot: Santiago Vanegas at Ger-Art


Santiago Vanegas, I Am You And You Are Me.
Santiago Vanegas, I Am You And You Are Me.

At a time when AI can test higher than a 4-year-old child, Atlanta-based photographer Santiago Venegas asks us to recognize our humanity in his series of photographs of robots. On view at Ger-Art through Sunday, November 13, “Considering Mortal” features the artist’s digital composites of San Francisco’s urban nightscapes populated by shadowy mecha anime. The images are so flawlessly crafted that it is uncertain what does or does not belong in these familiar yet post-human photographs.

The scenes in these large-scale, cinematic images raise questions about the relationship of humans to technology and its increasing presence in our lives. At first, it is easy to relate to Vanegas’s isolated anthropomorphic subjects. We see one “parent” holding the hand of a “child.” Another has tripped and fallen in a parking lot. A robot pictured in a church (Take Me To Your Leader, 2007) is almost easily overlooked as it blends into the shadows and ornate architecture, and it is easy to miss the glowing eye of another sitting atop a crane (The Rush Of Tranquility, 2007). While we see ourselves in the robots, we’re reminded that they are nothing more than machines that we’ve created. Yet, we increasingly rely on such machines and technology for our survival. As the title of one work puts it: I am you and you are me.

Carrie Rachel Taylor is an art student at Georgia State University, and is currently a BURNAWAY editorial intern.

“Considering Mortal” is on view at Ger-Art through Sunday, November 13 as part of Atlanta Celebrates Photography. A closing reception will be held on November 13 from 11am to 2pm.  

Santiago Vanegas, I Don’t Know What to Wear (detail).
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