March 29, 2014
The Gaze Of A Sexy, Gyrating Animatronic Doll
Regularly, I check out what is happening in weird news. Sometimes I find something completely worth writing about (for instance, the Giraffe Woman article from March 20) and sometimes it is just a bust. Recently, though, I came across some weird news that was simultaneously weird, creepy, fascinating, and all techy while browsing through the Huffington Post Weird News section. These four definitely make for an interesting article. Just what was the weird, creepy, fascinating technology? As the Huffington Post article identifies, one artist has created an animatronic dancing humanoid female. Right, so I think before proceeding, it is important to watch the video of the being:
Yeah, isn’t that something? She dances all sexy-like, but has a green, scaly mask face and has areas covered in dirt. Oh, and she can look right at us. Just how does she do the latter? Her eyes can follow us using motion sensor technology. The artist, Jordan Wolfson, paired up with friends at Spectral Motion to create this piece of artwork for the David Zwirner Gallery in New York City.
The Huffington Post article found an old interview of Wolfson’s where he briefly describes the piece that at the time was a work of art in progress:
“I don’t want to tell you this work is about women,” said artist Jordan Wolfson over the phone, “because I don’t think that’s true.” Wolfson, a 33-year-old artist who works in video, performance, and sculpture, was on a lunch break at a special effects studio in Los Angeles where he was developing his latest work, an animatronic sculptural woman that will be on display at David Zwirner gallery, engaging with visitors one-on-one beginning March 6.
Despite his statement, the doll is the result of an attempt, “in a way,” to explore the gaze, a concept with psychoanalytical roots that is most associated with the feminist notion of gender power imbalance that occurs in film, renaissance painting, and other media when viewers are asked to identify with the male perspective, and hence the objectification of women.
Boy, does Wolfson’s artwork really draw attention to the gaze concept. Many of the comments both on the YouTube video and on the Huffington Post focus on how creepy the gyrating robot is. For me, the only thing really creepy about the animatronic dancer is how dirty she is. It made me feel dirty. The dancing was fascinating to watch because if I did not know she was a robot, I would not have realized that she was not a human dancer. Of course, the silver bar gives her away, but that is easy to overlook as one watches the dancing and then focuses on the face.
And let’s talk about that face. The fact that she can follow us with her motion sensor eyes really is not what creeped me out. In fact, that also fascinated me. However, the green, scaly face impacted me most. I kept wanting to touch it even through the computer screen.
The analytical part of me wants to dissect every inch of this art installation. I want to break down the symbolism of each aspect: the gaze, the scaly face, the dirt smudges, her outfit, and even how she moves. And isn’t that what good art is supposed to do? Shouldn’t it make us a bit uncomfortable in some way as well as intrigue us? Wolfson’s installment certainly does both and so much more.
The fact that it incorporates technology to really impact us adds another level to both the creepiness that some feel as well as the fascination. I love when worlds like art and technology collide to make something like the gyrating animatronic doll. It’s just so, well, fascinating.
Image Credit: Thinkstock