robotic fakelore

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Reflection on Robotic Fakelore in Robotic Arts and HCI

Related paper: Jacobsson, M., Fernaeus, Y., Cramer, H., & Ljungblad, S. (2013, April). Crafting against robotic fakelore: on the critical practice of artbot artists. In CHI'13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 2019-2028). ACM.

Time: 11th Feb 2014

In the paper the author investigated and discussed about robotic fakelore from an perspective of art. Five reoccurring topics from the artists were revealed as Robustness, Intelligence in soft- ware(and hardware), Autonomy, Anthropomorphism and the machine aesthetics of mass production.

In the paper, author introduced the term “fakelore" as “new cultural expressions sometimes were presented as if they were traditional or genuine”. To my understanding, robotic fakelore in the art exhibition refers to how artists reveal and stress new issues and problems on top of people’s es- tablished perspectives of a robot. Their artwork will be easier accepted by audience in this way. Furthermore, the new expressions, form and interactions they designed in their robot through various technologies and materials actually became innovative parts of a dynamic whole. Mean- time, another part involve audiences’ participation. Here I can use an old Chinese slang to con- c!lude it as “new wine in an old bottle”.

However, I think there are still differences between the robotic fakelore in robot art and within HCI area.

Firstly, the context is different. As most art pieces will reveal problems that ordinary people won’t think of, the robots in art exhibition is situated in an unique space. The performance, failure or interaction of the art pieces will evoke people’s feelings, but in a designed context(exhibition). This context itself with also evoke people’s special feelings. However, the digital artefacts in HCI area are designed for people to use in a more natural setting, which can not be controlled but m!ust be learned by designers through field studies before the designing process.

Also in art pieces, robots can represent mysterious power regardless of how it was built physically and technically. The effect it has on people is related to individual’s cultural background, emotions and understandings. Since art is unique, usually strongly connected with the artist who makes it, and is difficult to be judged by any unified standard, it’s common to have robotic fakelore. In the paper the author also mentioned the interactivity of the robotic art piece as it had more to do with audience participation. But In HCI area, as the digital interactive artefacts are made to perform a function, or fulfil a task to help people, we are always taught to have a user- centred attitude in our mind. This means, the product, be it a fluffy robot, or a square metal head, must be designed in a way that follows human’s psychology and take the context into considera- tion. If people regard the product as a tool to fulfil one task, will there be robotic fakelore? Is it related to the material used? Or as now we more and more talk about the aesthetic(artistic) and e!motional attributes of a product, is it also related to the aesthetic in the product?

Finally in the seminar, Mattias discussed with us about three different aspects(roles) under the umbrella of interaction design: field study, design and tinkering. In my opinion, field study is the basement for the latter two. And I think in the design process and tinkering process, it’s hard but also essential to know both people and materials, what people would like to do and can be done using certain materials. Combining design and tinkering can avoid cargo cult design.

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