Slave/Master: BRIA is rehearsing at Plexal ahead of its London Design Festival exhibition at the V&A

From fears that they’ll steal our jobs or cause marital jealousy to a more philosophical sense of unease about robots surpassing humans in the intelligence stakes and eventually overpowering us, many people approach robots with a mixture of curiosity and suspicion.

And as robots and collaborative robots – cobots – start to play an increasingly big role in our workplaces, cities and homes, the desire to understand them is also growing.

To explore the complex nature of human-robot interactions and challenge people’s fears of the technology, the Brooke Roberts Innovation Agency (BRIA) has devised Slave/Master: an installation that brings together contemporary dance, cobots and interactive projection graphics that capture the “mood” of the cobots. The audience can walk around the space as they please and the cobots will react to the movements of the human dancers.

BRIA has developed the installation alongside a team of partners, including creative digital agency Holition, robot manufacturer KUKA Robotics, the London Contemporary Ballet Theatre, composer Rupert Cross and industrial automation company Adelphi Automation.

Housed in the Raphael Gallery at the V&A from 16-24 September 2017, it’s part of this year’s London Design Festival and the performers (both human and non-human) are completing their final rehearsals at Plexal’s Makers Yard: a space dedicated to making, exploration, innovation and play.

Do androids dream of electric sheep, stealing our jobs or even overpowering mankind?  We don’t have the answers at Plexal but we’re very happy that the likes of BRIA are asking the questions.