Vol. 16:1 (2008) ► pp.3–36
Have computation, animatronics, and robotic art anything to say about emotion, compassion, and how to model them?
The survivor project
We discuss robotic art, emotion in robotic art, and compassion in the philosophy of art. We discuss a particular animated artwork, survivor, the walking chair, symbolising survivors of landmine blasts, learning to use crutches, and maimed emotionally as well as physically. Its control incorporates mutual relations between very rudimentary representations of distinct emotions. This artwork is intended for sensitising viewers to the horror experienced by those who survive, and those who don’t. We can only give a small sample, here, of the reactions of viewers on various occasions when survivor was exhibited. Regardless of how much which pertains to human mental functions the tool embodies or doesn’t (actually, such replication is minimalist), it is the effect on the human perceivers which matters most to us, and enables us to understand something more about human cognition. Arguably this project is instructive in respect of the ethical-social implications of the synthetic method, i.e. the construction of inorganic systems in order to understand autonomous intentional action; in this project, the latter pertains to the humans involved.