Story 120: Wanda Tuerlinckx

What is your backstory?

Based in Amsterdam, I have been a photographer since 1992. After I graduated in photography at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam I started making portraits for magazines. In addition, I made free work, mainly portraits and reportages of subjects that stood out to me as an image of the time. In 2016 I started photographing portraits of robots with a plate camera from 1880. In collaboration with human-machine interaction scientist Dr. Ir. Erwin R. Boer, we fused our scientific and photographic interests in robots and have visited leading scientific institutes and universities in Europe, Asia and the US to photograph and research revolutionary developments in robotics.

Android U. Osaka University © Wanda Tuerlinckx

What camera gear/editing setup do you use?

I use a plate camera from around 1880. Since it is an exposer time of 6 seconds I also use film light to enlighten the subject. Together with the necessary tripods, light meter, etc.

Repliee S1. Hiroshi ishiguro Laboratories © Wanda Tuerlinckx

BINA48. TMF Vermont © Wanda Tuerlinckx

Philip K. Dick LARRI Louisville © Wanda Tuerlinckx

CB2. Asada Research Group © Wanda Tuerlinckx

How do you achieve the look of your photographs and could you take us through the process?

I try to approach my subjects in a human way, whether they are people or objects. The 'soul' of objects have a certain frequency that I find interesting to capture. Photography is an excellent means of traveling between these layers of perception and dimensions. A photo is a journey through time, it transcends time. By looking at the current technological developments of the future with a camera from the beginning of the industrial revolution, the present, past and future are captured in one image. The illumination with an old film lamp and the uncoated lens of the classic camera gives the image an imperfection and soft expression, which brings more life to the portrait.

Philip K. Dick LARRI Louisville © Wanda Tuerlinckx

iCub. Asada Research Group © Wanda Tuerlinckx

InMoov © Wanda Tuerlinckx

KASPAR. EIZTZuyd © Wanda Tuerlinckx

Pepper. SoftBank Robotics © Wanda Tuerlinckx

Could you tell us the backstory of some of your photographs?

The development of robots over the centuries has been a two-fold goal. On the one hand, robot development is fuelled by societies economic need to cheaper, faster, safer. On the other hand, it has been filled by human curiosity to understand what it means to be human. Some of today's machines look like humans, move like humans, talk like humans, and even think like humans at a rapidly increasing rate. We marvel at the technological capabilities of these robots and how they are integrated into our daily lives. At the same time, we watch anxiously as robots reach human potential. The Android robots are fascinating but also terrifying because they appear creepy due to subtle imperfections. Japanese robotics professor Masahiro Mori described this phenomenon in 1970 as "Uncanny Valley".

As continuously accelerating technological developments continue to anticipate the ethical and social implications of robots in our society, we live with an increasing inner tension between acceptance and rejection.

Affetto. Asada Research Group © Wanda Tuerlinckx

Ai-DA © Wanda Tuerlinckx

Ai-DA © Wanda Tuerlinckx

Ai-DA © Wanda Tuerlinckx

EAP. NASA JPL © Wanda Tuerlinckx

What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?

I feel it's important for photographers to tell stories that generate more awareness about the times we live in. We are at a crossroad towards a new paradigm shift of awareness and evolution. Who are we as human beings and what do we come to bring is now more than ever an existential question.

Erica. Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories © Wanda Tuerlinckx

Kansei. Robot Science Lab. Meiji University © Wanda Tuerlinckx

Kansei. Robot Science Lab. Meiji University © Wanda Tuerlinckx

Otonaroid. Miraikan Museum © Wanda Tuerlinckx

Telenoid R1. ATR © Wanda Tuerlinckx


Wanda Tuerlinckx


Story 121: Niamh McParland


Story 119: Daniel L. Fleitas