Sunday, March 6, 2011

Smooth, perfect and doll-like

Robonaut R2A waving goodbye as Robonaut R2B launches into space aboard STS-133. R2 is the first humanoid robot in space.Location: Kennedy Space Center. Photographer: Joe Bibby.

Robonaut R2A is on Twitter so I've asked it whether its large chest cavity conceals some functionality or whether it's designed that way to make him look masculine. I doubt whether it will answer. It's last Twitter was that it's inside a box that doesn't have windows. But it will be out soon.
Attempts to humanize man made constructs is admirable. Take for example the latest Japanese development - a mobile phone in the shape of a human with an outer coating that feels like human skin. The final product, unlike the one in the photo below will fit neatly into the palm of the hand.

Looking very much like a religious icon, carved fetish or soap impression of his wife, these mobile phones are intended to make you feel closer to the person you're talking to. Aside from stroking the phone and feeling warm and fuzzy when speaking to a loved one, would we really want to be making tactile associations with most people on the end of the line? I can see the point here though. People can't live without their phones They hold and stroke it, manipulate it with their thumbs, have their finger on the trigger, speak softly to it, place it carefully back into their pocket or bag. It wouldn't take much more to extend this fetishistic mobile phone to include a vibrator so you can come and go as you please. Jacking in and jacking off. Yea, happiness is a warm gun, or is it?
Personally I prefer the aesthetics found in David Cronenberg's EXistenZ (1999).  Visceral gory mucus, slimy skin taut over bone and stripped flesh abounds. The assassin's weapon is made of interlocking bone and shoots human teeth instead of bullets. 
Technologists who mimic the human body should get it right. It's not all smooth,  perfect, doll-like and related to fantasy like the constructs in the photographs above, it's crusty, dirty and vulnerable, aging and diseased and not always attractive.

1 comment:

  1. R2 did respond on twitter and said 'My large chest is where I put all my brains'. (Ha!) Brains by NASA, body by Mattel.