Is It Alive?

For this project, I wanted to have strong concept as this is something I’m still getting used to doing as a digital media artist. Essentially, I wanted to convey a message which causes the viewer to become uneasy with the difficult requests that the “thing” is asking. The “thing” itself is actually a robotic entity which I took the time to model and 3D print. I then placed it into a glass casing with lights representing its state of well-being. Upon first powering on the being, one will be tempted to press the button to end the its suffering as it beacons to you that this is no way to live. But of course, this is not so easy of a choice and it definitely will not be easy when this becomes possible centuries down the line. So, what exactly is making the robot sentient? Conceptually I wanted to convey that it would one day be possible to place a human mind into a machine or perhaps some other digitally self-aware entity. The question I am also asking is whether or not it is a good thing that this technology exists. How would we resolve the contingencies of a self-aware cybernetic being feeling alienated in its own “skin”? We should also ask ourselves about the political implications of how we would ethically regulate this. Interestingly, this project also caused alot of those in the Art 74 class to question what they should do in response. To press the button or not? It was a general consensus that yes it should be pressed and sure enough someone did so. But after the flat-line sounds became present, they yanked the electrical connection to end its suffering. I am also not discouraging the creation of this technology. Rather, I want us to think about ways to approach it to prevent the other end of that double edged sword.

As for the display itself, the lights vary from red to white depending on if the button was pressed in response to the robot’s requests. But when you leave the “off” state on for a while, a flatline sound can be heard resembling the ending of a life when hooked up to life support. This is what the wires wrapping around the robot represent as well. On the normal state, a normal heart beat can be heard and of course the voice of the robot.

There are also a few things I would have liked to have done better, and I would certainly like to tweak this project in the near future accordingly. But First and foremost, it is important to know that this was not my intended aesthetic. The lights were certainly a part of my plan and they contributed significantly to the visual in the glass case. The wires protruding from the back of the case however, were a bit intrusive to the eyes, and I was eager for a way to hide them. However, if I were to continue working on this project, I would certainly come up with an elaborate way to hide them. I was thinking along the lines of a 3D printed container which could fit the electronic components perfectly and the wires themselves tied together into a thin black tube which could easily be hidden until making their way around the sculpture. Lastly, there was a lot of unused negative space which I was actually thinking of adding some environmental objects. The main obstacle to other mentioned details however, was basically some personal inconveniences that happened to coincide.

However, despite my shortcomings visually, I am happy with my concept, and would like to use this as an opportunity to nurture myself as an artist.

Sculpting Process

I made the model in Maya 2017, and used a Lulzbot mini 3D printer. It came out nicely with the right settings although one of the thinner arms snapped a little.

Thank You

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