I really like art projects that don’t take themselves too seriously. Bill Vorn’s robotic artwork is exactly what I mean: with pieces like “The Begging Machine” (a robot that lurches at you when you walk by), “The Harassing Machine” (a robot that tries to tickle you with its tentacles), and “The Crawling Machine” (pictured) that tries to crawl away from people nearby. These robots show the frailty of machines and how they might co-exist with humans by eventually mimicing our (worst) behaviors. Looking back, the godfathers of “emotive robotics” could probably be Arthur Ganson and Norman T. White – especially White’s “Helpless Robot” (1987) that had no moving parts and only a voice chip telling people where to move it. Somewhere in that mix is Alexei Shulgin’s Busking 386 DX, which features an old PC singing Beatles tunes for money on the street. So in the end, do we feel sorry for these robots or are they products of our own technological determinism? More additions to this list are welcome…


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