Less Human than Human

The series Less Human than Human is a response to mankind’s drive to anthropomorphize machines by seeing how far one could go in the opposite direction by physically destroying an already anthropomorphic object to the edge where any further destruction would remove all perceived humanity. This is not a dehumanization since that would imply that the object in question was human to begin with; this is strictly a de-anthropomorphism – a removal of false humanity.

An example of this was shown in the movie 2001 when we see astronaut Bowman slowly remove Hal’s human circuitry. At the end Hal is reduced back to a machine while singing “Daisy” in an ever-degrading human voice. It is hard to tell the exact point where Hal loses his humanity, although we do get a hint when Hal exclaims “My mind is going. I can feel it.”

We haven’t yet witnessed the reduction of the human physical form because we have yet to arrive at a perfect or near perfect artificial human; perfect being measured by some sort of Turing or perhaps a Voight-Kampff like test. One could readily admit that a threshold of passing either one of these tests does exist even though that threshold may be more of a spectrum. But if one were to go in the opposite direction what kind of tests could be applied to find the threshold where no human characteristics exists?

In between these two thresholds lies the uncanny valley, a region of semi-humanity, and to the degrees of how we relate to it as measured by some internal tests within ourselves. Things are human and not human at the same time; “creepy” is a word that’s been used to describe things in this realm. The boundaries of this uncanny valley are the thresholds of anthropomorphism; one end is human and in the other something distinctly non-human.

This series takes its title by reversing the motto More Human than Human used by the Tyrell corporation from the original Blade Runner movie. All photos shot using the wet plate collodion process.