Pinokio is a piece that explores the expressive and behavioral potential of robotic computing. A desk lamp comes to life when it is turned on, triggering what appears to be a wide range of behaviors. Pinokio reacts to its environment with gestures: it looks up, inspects its surroundings, and demands the attention of all who approach it, trying to lure spectators with its charms. As a familiar, commonplace object, a lamp, visitors do not hesitate to come closer and try to understand the appeal of its silent language. It is a pleasant, cheerful, affable robot that seems to observe and interpret the scene around it with straightforward simplicity. Its expressive versatility and environmental responsiveness were programmed using Processing, Arduino, and a camera vision algorithm. We are left to wonder if Pinokio is just a lamp, something with a specific function that exhibits functional behavior, or if we are dealing with a sensitive, sentient being that communicates with its environment. Adam Ben-Dror’s primary inspiration for this piece was Luxo Jr., star of the Pixar short film created by John Lasseter in 1986, although Pinokio is also a nod to the “Ultimate Machine”, a device programmed to turn itself off automatically and invented in 1952 by Claude Shannon and Marvin Minsky.
About the author
Adam Ben-Dror has recently graduated from Victoria University School of Design in Wellington. He also spent a year at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. He creates beautiful objects that are designed to inspire debate, provoke thought or simply bring about delight. His work spans a continuum of art, design and technology and explores the boundaries between functional purpose and whimsy. Often utilizing both the physical and digital worlds, bringing together bits and atoms. Adam is currently a tutor at Victoria University and is taking a class in Multispecies design.
Shanshan Zhou is a media designer with a wide range of interests in different creative fields. With strong interests in animation and interaction design, she sees creative coding a unique and powerful means of expression. Shanshan is passionate about creating projects that combines arts and technology, through which she can challenge and question people’s perception of digital media.