Robotic Existentialism: The Art of Eric Joyner HC

Artist: Eric Joyner
Foreword: Jan and Bruce Helford
Publisher: Dark Horse

Review by Anelise Farris

I’ll admit up front that until this weekend I was unfamiliar with the artist Eric Joyner. However, when I saw the title Robotic Existentialism: The Art of Eric Joyner, I thought how could I resist? I love robots and—though it’s not exactly a joy—I have a particular fondness for, or perhaps, understanding of existentialism. All that being said, I was eager to see Eric Joyner’s work.

Robotic Existentialism: The Art of Eric Joyner contains eleven collections; each one, approximately 15 to 20 pages, features a series of related works. Although the individual collections do not necessarily tell a story chronologically, it is evident that each piece in the collection was carefully produced and arranged—creating untraditional yet compelling narratives.

The first collection Country Life features robots in nature—at a picnic, reading a book under a tree, encountering friends like Sasquatch and Sock Monkey. Other collections take us to places like the jungle, the sea, and the city. Throughout most of Robotic Existentialism: The Art of Eric Joyner, Joyner employs bold colors and a blend of surrealist and realistic styles. In terms of art, Heavy Machinery was a particular favorite of mine, with its use of darker colors that gave it a stronger weight and otherworldly feel.  

Robotic Existentialism: The Art of Eric Joyner is a collection of work that has something that will appeal to everyone: a giant pink cake in a snowy landscape, robotic cats that befriend Frida Khalo, and the occasional abstract and collage-style pieces. Individually, my favorite piece is “A Good Year” because it involves cats in bowties, a ton of colorful donuts, and a few bottles of wine—that sounds pretty darn good to me.

Verdict: Buy it.

Although it is full of donuts and sprinkles, what gives Joyner’s work depth is the underlying sadness. There are recurring images of a robot just lying on its back, staring up at space, and I found the piece “Morning Light” to be especially affecting. Robotic Existentialism: The Art of Eric Joyner is both bleak and beautiful and entirely wonderful.

Anelise Farris
farranel@isu.edu
I'm a doctor that specializes in folklore and mythology, speculative fiction, and disability studies. Basically, I'm a professional geek. When not researching or teaching, I read; I write; I yoga; I travel; I play with my fur babies; and, I watch way too many (if that's a thing) horror movies.

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