London-based photographer Luisa Whitton devoted several months to documenting the efforts of scientists who are striving to create robots that are nearly indistinguishable from humans. The results are as fascinating as they are unsettling.
Whitton says that the goal of her project, titled What About the Heart?, is to "subvert the traditional formula of portraiture and allure the audience into a debate on the boundaries that determine the dichotomy of the human/not human. The photographs become documents of objects that sit between scientific tool and horrid simulacrum"
Whitton's images are often accompanied by transcribed interviews between herself and the scientists. In fact, one of those conversations was the inspiration for the title of her project. While speaking with Japanese roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro on the meaning of being human, she asked him, "What about the heart?" Ishiguro took her metaphorical question literally, and answered, "That is the easiest part; artificial hearts are very popular now. The liver is more difficult."
Whitton's photos are disturbing—and not just because it's a hand holding a frickin' disembodied face. I'm immediately reminded of scenes from films such as Westworld, where there was always the obligatory "reveal" of the face being removed from the android. I never imagined that I would see those scenes replayed in real life.