What's the difference between a human and an android? That's a very important question, and according to robotics expert Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, it's not necessarily an easy one to answer.
As the main venue, RMIT Gallery hosted the professor's visit from 12-16 September, when he performed with Telenoid, his tele-operated android.
The Telenoid was a media hit and crowd pleaser. Professor Ishiguro appeared on multiple television programs, radio shows and posed for photos calls.
On opening night, more than 600 people crowded into RMIT Gallery to take a look at the star attraction and interact with the android.
In the audience was Hidenobu Sobashima, Consul-General of Japan. He was interested in how he was able to have a conversation with Telenoid.
RMIT Gallery Director Suzanne Davies said the Telenoid challenged our capacity to differentiate between art and science.
"We were all fascinated at just how closely an android could simulate reality," she said.
Professor Ishiguro said our brain was designed for recognising the human, not the machine and not the computer. He said that women, especially, prefer robots with a more human-like appearance.
Part Skype and part android, the Telenoid is being trialed in Japan, Denmark and Australia to see whether it can help with depression and loneliness in the elderly.
The Telenoid, unlike a Skype call, provides the tactile sensation. With its soft, silicon skin, the Telenoid uses tele-operated and facial recognition software to hug, smile and speak.
Instead of speaking on a small smartphone, which is an anonymous black box, those holding Telenoid get to see and feel a response from the person they are speaking to.
The Telenoid's eyes have cameras so it can see you and hold an interactive discussion.
It can tell if you are looking sad, or happy, what you are wearing, and if you are frustrated - because that's what the person on the other end of Telenoid can see, via a notebook computer.
Comments about the Telenoid in the RMIT Gallery visitor book ranged from "I had an interesting conversation with a robot - so weird but cool!" to "The robot told me where I am going on the holidays and it sounds like fun!"
Professor Ishiguro said: "The elderly actually prefer talking to the Telenoid rather than talking to people."
The Telenoid is not only gender neutral and unthreatening and baby sized, it is also a blank slate on which the audience can project its imagination.
This appearance arose from a question that Professor Ishiguro posed during the design process: how much human likeness does a robot need to have?
One blogger said after visiting Telenoid at RMIT Gallery: "I thought that the most interesting aspect of it was that it had abbreviated limbs and no bodily hair and as such engages with (though I'm sure that was not the inventor's intention) the notion of disability."
Another online comment: "The biomechanical parameters mean that you automatically tend to hold and interact with it as you would a comparable sized human, although it reminded me of the mechanical torso that you use for First Aid CPR training tool…
"But I had no qualms about picking it up and holding it, finding the experience amusing as it squirmed in my arms rather than unsettling."
A devoted Trekkie who owns every Star Trek box set and knows everything there is to know about the television show and its spin-offs, Professor Ishiguro is not surprised by the reactions.
"Nobody knows what it means to be human. That's what I am looking for. Does the robot have a heart and mind? When the human sees the android, they are always asking about consciousness.
"However, the human is also a kind of machine. We need to input information into our brain. The human cannot develop their own characteristics by themselves so we do the same to the android by inputting information."
Experimenta Speak to Me is on at RMIT Gallery until 17 November. Although the Telenoid has gone back to Japan with Professor Ishiguro, audiences can immerse themselves in a wide range of interactive new media art.