Chico MacMurtie’s border-crossing robot serves a poetic and political function.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — If I learned anything from Transformers, the 2007 movie reboot that pits robots against robots, it’s that I’ll pretty much watch anything that involves a giant robot. This includes a recent test run of a 40-foot art robot commanded by artist Chico MacMurtie, and created under his direction by an interdisciplinary team of undergraduates at University of Michigan. It’s a part of his residency at the UM Institute for the Humanities.

The test run was the official launch of a “Border Crosser” robot, designed, of course, to cross borders — specifically the border between Mexico and the United States. (MacMurtie is based in Arizona and Brooklyn.) With the rise and reign of a president who won the support of xenophobes by promising a massive wall between the US and Mexico, MacMurtie’s creation serves a poetic and political function.