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The Golem Lives On

Chapter 1 of the Exhibition Catalogue GOLEM: Introduction

Martina Lüdicke

What are the golems of today? The golem metaphor denotes phenomena, technologies, or inventions that get out of hand. They can become a threat once their creators lose control over them. This is relevant to many fields, including robotics, genetic research, artificial intelligence, and political movements.

The analogy between the golem and artificial intelligence is not new. The scientist Gershom Scholem named an Israeli mainframe computer "Golem Aleph" and wished the machine to remain peaceful. Today, specialists develop AI creations that simulate consciousness, store memories, or express aggression or empathy. The modern golem stands for the ambivalence of hope, skepticism, and danger in the face of the achievements of a world that is becoming increasingly technologized.

The golem became more widely known through the countless golem descendants that have been populating the cosmos of role plays and computer games since the 1970s. It first appeared in an analog version, such as in the Dungeons & Dragons game, and later in digital worlds such as Minecraft or Clash of Clans. Whether on the computer, game consoles, or tablets—iron golems, gemstone golems, and chaos golems obey the demands of their creators, but the potential to get out of control is always lurking within them.

Martina Lüdicke majored in Literature Studies and works at the Jewish Museum Berlin, where she has curated the exhibitions Chrismukka, How German is It?, The Whole Truth... Everything you always wanted to know about Jews and Snip it! Stances on Ritual Circumcision.

Citation recommendation:

Martina Lüdicke (2016), The Golem Lives On. Chapter 1 of the Exhibition Catalogue GOLEM: Introduction.

Golem als Actionfigur (Ausschnitt)

Online Edition of the GOLEM Catalog: Table of Contents

The Golem in Berlin – introduction by Peter Schäfer
Chapter 1
Current page: The Golem Lives On – introduction by Martina Lüdicke
My Light is Your Life – by Anna Dorothea Ludewig
Avatars – by Louisa Hall
The Secret of the Cyborgs – by Caspar Battegay
Chapter 2
Jewish Mysticism – introduction by Emily D. Bilski
Golem Magic – by Martina Lüdicke
Golem, Language, Dada – by Emily D. Bilski
Chapter 3
Transformation – introduction by Emily D. Bilski
Jana Sterbak’s Golem: Objects as Sensations – by Rita Kersting
Crisálidas (Chrysalises) – by Jorge Gil
Rituals – by Christopher Lyon
A Golem that Ended Well – by Emily D. Bilski
On the Golem – by David Musgrave
Louise Fishman’s Paint Golem – by Emily D. Bilski
Chapter 4
Legendary Prague – introduction by Martina Lüdicke
Golem Variations – by Peter Schäfer
Rabbi Loew’s Well-Deserved Bath – by Harold Gabriel Weisz Carrington
Chapter 5
Horror and Magic – introduction by Martina Lüdicke
Golem and a Little Girl – by Helene Wecker
The Golem with a Group of Children Dancing – by Karin Harrasser
Bringing the Film Set To Life – by Anna-Carolin Augustin
Golem and Mirjam – by Cathy S. Gelbin
Chapter 6
Out of Control – introduction by Emily D. Bilski
Golem—Man Awakened with Glowing Hammer – by Arno Pařík
Dangerous Symbols – by Charlotta Kotik
Be Careful What You Wish For – by Marc Estrin
Chapter 7
Doppelgänger – introduction by Martina Lüdicke
From the Golem-Talmud – by Joshua Cohen
Kitaj’s Art Golem – by Tracy Bartley
The Golem as Techno-Imagination? – by Cosima Wagner
See also
GOLEM – 2016, online edition with selected texts of the exhibition catalog
GOLEM – 2016, complete printed edition of the exhibition catalog, in German
Golem. From Mysticism to Minecraft – Online Feature, 2016
GOLEM – exhibition, 23 Sep 2016 to 29 Jan 2017

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