Featuring work by Codemanipulator, Chris Cunningham, Dunne & Raby, Natalie Jeremijenko, Kahve Society, Alex McLean, Philippe Parreno, Unmask Group, and guest robots (Swarm Systems and Heart Robot). Exhibition design in collaboration with nOffice.

Sat 22 Nov 2008 - Sun 18 Jan 2009, open 10.00 - 18.00 (except Mondays)
Arnolfini, Bristol, UK.

The Supertoys exhibition and events programme at Arnolfini explores toys, affective machines, and play. Artists, technologists, children and adults examine how toys operate as 'transitional objects' in allowing feelings to be carried between the human subject and external objects. The exhibition also explores the idea of reciprocal relationships with intelligent toys and robots, and our related hopes and fears. In the science of Artificial Intelligence a basic question remains: will we succeed in building robots that think and feel like we do? This in turn raises questions about the nature of emotion and whether we can replicate human affect in machines, or whether robots can develop their own 'feelings' independently.

Philippe Parreno, The Writer (2007), DVD. Courtesy the artist and Pilar Corrias Ltd.

Supertoys makes reference to Brian Aldiss' short story Super-Toys Last All Summer Long. As in the Aldiss story, in which an android boy thinks himself to be real and is programmed to love his adoptive mother, playing with toys expresses the complex interrelations between humans and objects or machines, reality and fantasy, what it means to care for something, and our inability to love. In many ways toys appear to play with us.

Events exploring toys, work and play, literature, object-relations, marketing and design, will run throughout the exhibition. There is also a related film programme.

installation view of gallery 3

Supertoys is the third in the Concept Store series of projects at Arnolfini, exploring the realms of marketing, design and experience economy. The series looks at the role of design and 'experience staging' used in contemporary strategies for engaging the public, integrating the spheres of art and consumerism.