Tag Archives: Uncanny Valley

Still Creepy

The wolf image we blogged about in Look and Listen reminded Katherine, as a sculptor, of Point Cloud. This is a technical process using a laser to pinpoint areas on a subject that can then be used to create a 3D model of it. Like the wolf, it traps the subject within the laser image, which can then become a clay model or something else physical. In a way, the distance that sits between these two forms of the same object or being, separating them, creates an area of non-existence.

Two interesting findings have come out of ideas around Point Cloud and trappings:

1. King Kong

The third King Kong film used CGI to recreate the famous gorilla and extra scenes on the DVD revealed how this is done using a real person as the basis for his actions. Here’s a clip of some facial expressions showing the actor and the projected image of King Kong. In the same way we all represent a version of ourselves online, characters are created to digitally portray a version of a truth.

These characters are released in to the digital wild to live their own lives.

2. Changing faces

Thanks to a Viral Pandas submission we’ve been looking at the Uncanny Valley and found it very relevant to the Sneezing Pandas Project. It involves us being able to detect when something that looks very real is actually not real, but robotic. We also feel it applies well to a cyborg persona – that is, who we project ourselves to be online, what we share and the comments we write.

Are we empty beings in the cyborg world and merely a reflection of a human form?

Do we project this on to the animals we watch?

We found this video, which demonstrates how close we are getting to changing faces with technology. Regardless of how good or bad this effect is…

It’s still creepy.

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The He/She Head

The result of the domestication of a clay head is altogether removed from the starting point:

Viral Pandas | Clay Head | Domestication Studies    Viral Pandas | Clay Head | Domestication Studies

You’ll see that in relation to our neoteny studies, the eyes are larger, the skin smooth and hair free, the forehead larger and the nose smaller.

Is it just me, or is the domesticated head more appealing?

Are you drawn to look more at this one?

To look for longer?

Does it look more female to you?

Katherine explains more about the proportions of the domesticated head and, as she was working on it, the influence of the Uncanny Valley submission on making things look hyper real. In the digital world it seems the more neotenous and the more familiar (domesticated) an animal is; the more popular.

You can watch the morphing of the original head in to the domesticated head in this video:

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Cyborg Conversations in Uncanny Valley

Contributor, David Joy, has shared some videos with us about Uncanny Valley, which we find fascinating. The term was coined by Masahiro Mori, a robotics professor who designed and built a robot to look and behave exactly like himself. The robot is, for want of a better word, freaky.

The uncomfortable sensation that hits us when watching the robot, which looks just like a human, moves like a human, sounds like a human, but we know definitely isn’t a human, puts us in the Uncanny Valley. It’s the gap between successfully attributing something that isn’t human with familiar human features that people find endearing and the total inability to tell the difference between a robot and a human. It’s the ability to tell that something so close to being human is not human, which jars the mind.

The following video was a particularly interesting depiction of Uncanny Valley and relates well to our project. The video, although it is not about a real human being, is really quite sad.

Perhaps it reflects our view of watching animals online?

Don’t think, and we don’t want you to feel.

Perhaps watching animals digitally online distances us so far from the real animal being that we needn’t be concerned for its welfare, we simply want it to entertain us. Does all sense of reality slip under the radar in our digital, cyborg conversation?

More about Mori and Uncanny Valley at WIRED.

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