(WHAT HAVE I DONE?)
I am creating a unique robotic entity derived from my own illustrative content, whose physical features, functionality and programmed mannerisms cumulatively result in portraying the personality of the drawn character. “Noodle’s” ability to sense his immediate environment allows him to enact a behavioral response of his choice. The purpose is that those who interact with “Noodle” witness a demonstration of “self” that may encourage reflection about our relation to the technology we encounter in everyday life.
The drawn character of “NoodleFeet” is a young robot that aspires to grow up and become a space-faring probe on another planet. I portray him as being curious, and having a certain quirkiness that might leave others feeling uncomfortable or confused while trying to understand the motives of a machine-child life form.
NoodleFeet, as a functioning machine, undergoes regular upgrades to his mechanical, electronic, and software systems. Part of this development involves the engineering of behavioral modules that connect to his limbs (similar to interchangeable tool attachments on industrial robots). Due to the iterative development and whimsical progression of these limbs, noodle should be thought of as “growing” in a manner that reflects his environmental influences, much like any other organism. By raising and nurturing Noodle through his stages of maturity, I assume the roll of his mother.
Part of this mother-child relationship between creator and machine becomes preformative. I openly demonstrate my willingness to do whatever is necessary so that my child achieve his dream of venturing into space as a “legitimate” piece of hardware representing humanity far from Earth.
(WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ME?)
I have assumed robot motherhood. After three years of engineering my robot, NoodleFeet, I’ve slowly begun referring to myself as his “mother” rather than “creator”. This is in part due to the fact that I have the most active role in his development; as the engineer of his mechanical form, sensory and behavioral repertoire, system of custom circuitry, and firmware.
Others who witness our interaction also view our relation as mother and child. At the same time, I’ve also realized while engaging others in discussion about NoodleFeet’s abilities, that their response to our companionship is unique relative to how I conduct my relation to my creation in this intimate way.
Noodlefeet is important because he is a tangible statement of my goals as a creator. Noodle is not only an extension of myself, he is a symbol for my ideas and a physical manifestation of my intentions as a creator. This is important because others can easily observe this statement, and enter into a dialogue with me about what I’m working toward.
Noodle provides a clear incentive for others to interact with me. My drive to understand mechanical motion, and the complexities of walk-gaits for mobile machines are desire that would remain concealed in the privacy of my mind if it weren’t for Noodle acting as this beacon. Being what he is, Noodle attracts the right kind of attention from those with feedback and thoughts, and funnels all relevant conversation to me as his mother, the way the leaves of a plant funnel moisture down to its roots.
(WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?)
I observe that humans want to anthropomorphize the inanimate. It’s a way for us to install a tiny piece of ourselves into the objects we coexist with. This expression of empathy adds an extra layer of meaning to life, one that I think humans feel a pressure to outgrow with age.
Life without meaning is vapid, but we can find meaning in the small constructs we build in our mind. In this aggressive world that moves swiftly and demands so much from the humans who defined its ways, I think its important we stay vigilant and hold onto these tiny expressions of personal meaning. As an artist, my goal is to promote that other extend that meaning to the technology that we coexist with.
I hope to inspire others to take a more active roll in the creation of personal technology that serves a unique purpose to the individual. I wish to live in a world were our innovations are not driven by our desire to sell useful commodities to the masses, but what our creations can tell others bout ourselves.
(WHAT AM I DOING ABOUT IT?)
I hope to live my life as an example of the creative conduct, human values, and exercise of meaning that I wish to see others take part in on a similar level.
I think the way we relate to our technology must shift and evolve as we continue to innovate. Whether a creation serves us in a utilitarian way, or acts as a unique extension of the individual who created it, we should continuously challenge where we draw hard lines between the two, and where what we create overlaps with our sense of self.