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Capricious Creatures: Animal Behavior as a Model for Robotic Art

Capricious Creatures: Animal Behavior as a Model for Robotic Art

Treva Pullen / Canada
OCAD University

This paper examines issues related to playfulness, cuteness and the modeling of animal behaviors toward the designs of robotic art. Exploring historical and contemporary case studies of the playful ecology and creations of robotic art, as entry points to a multi-faceted discussion of human-machine engagements consid- ering the lenses of philosophical, art historical and curatorial methodological research this text tracks an abbreviated legacy of new media art production beginning with the animal modeled works of Canadian artist Norman White.

In assessing characteristic features of a selection of robotic art works, such as its playfulness, use of humor, and critique/ reconfiguration of cuteness as a mode of critical engagement, this paper aims to unpack the motivations behind artist’s aesthetically and behaviorally oriented merging of the nonhuman robot with lively, soft, emotive and fussy animal creatures.

Case studies of animal modeled robotics point to the accessi- bility of employing animal behaviors and their powers to engage with humans on a level that is productive and non- confrontational. Animal behaviors and zoomorphic aesthetics appear to appeal to audiences in a way that would not be possible for confrontational and/or anthropomorphic bots.