Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cuddling with Jacek: Testing animations for art installation

Testing Animations

Although my inner clock keeps ticking louder and faster, I am making good progress checking off to-do items for Sunday's show. One of the exhibits I'm most looking forward to will give atendees a chance to cuddle with my chatbot. Sharing a romantic animation with an attractive yet empty avatar is a great way to get a feel for the power virtuality has to induce an emotional or even physical response.

Trouble was that I'd put off selecting an animation until last night. I went to Bits and Bobs, an animation store Gabby recommended. The animations that seemed to hold most promise required two avatars to test. I put out a request on Plurk for assistance, and Jacek Antonelli, noted and geekalicious artist, builder, scripter, animator and instructor was kind enough to offer to help.

Although we hang out with eros-Goddess Codie, Jacek and I are a bit on the, well, Spockish site of the street. So I felt a bit awkward saying a brief hello to my barely-konwn acquaintence and then jumping onto some very hot poseballs and watching us very, very closely in order to evaluate the animations.

It was a lot of fun. This Goldilocks had to try more than three before finding one that was just right. We both agreed that the animation eventually selected was a clear winner. It was good enough to make each of us feel a bit embarrassed be so seemingly physically intimate. And dare I say stir up a little feeling?

Anyone interesting in beta testing the cuddle bot exhibit before we officially open should drop me a line or comment. :)


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A beautiful thought experiment personified through the imagined perspective of a self-aware avatar. My creator's site can is at