Sunday, November 15, 2009

Uncanny Valley

Uncanny Valley
Arduino Decimila microchips, twelve servo motors, aluminum construction, springs, skin (collagen)

This work was realized for the group exhibition 7 Cubes that was curated by the Berlin based, Dutch artist Anneke Eussen. It is my first kinetic sculpture with Arduino technology. As a primary set up for the exhibition the gallery space was divided into by an elastic grid of 1-sqm cubes. This web created a determined space to work with.
For the given proposal I wanted to make a sculpture that moves in and outside the cube by expanding and contracting it limbs. An Idea about how movement is equal to “ever-changing” space, programmed and yet unpredictable.
I wanted to create this prototype of the robot as skinny and filigree as possible in the sense of a spatial drawing. Later on I decided to still at some parts of bodily volume of collagen tissue.
The Title “Uncanny valley” arrived from the hypothesis that goes by this name and holds that when robots and other facsimiles of humans look and act almost like actual humans, it causes a response of revulsion among human observers. The "valley" in question is a dip in a proposed graph of the positivity of human reaction as a function of a robot's lifelikeness.
It was introduced by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori
Mori's hypothesis states that as a robot is made more humanlike in its appearance and motion, the emotional response from a human being to the robot will become increasingly positive and empathic, until a point is reached beyond which the response quickly becomes that of strong repulsion. However, as the appearance and motion continue to become less distinguishable from a human being, the emotional response becomes positive once more and approaches human-to-human empathy levels.
This area of repulsive response aroused by a robot with appearance and motion between a "barely human" and "fully human" entity is called the uncanny valley. The name captures the idea that a robot, which is “almost human”, will seem overly "strange" to a human being and thus will fail to evoke the empathic response required for productive human-robot interaction.