lou suSi @ MassArt

2011 MFA Design graduate from DMI

January 8, 2013
by lou suSi
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from puppets to robots, revisited

time flies — our good friend and colleague Laura Bernhardt at DMI { and, yes, SIM, too } proposed an interesting analog to digital research paper in that very first year of study at Dynamic Media Institute — she called it, ‘from Puppets to Robots,’ but i don’t think she really gave herself the chance to dig in and do the research to explore this fascinating topic { Laura’s native language is German and i think she found the language component of researching in books written in English here in the states to be rather intimidating, and i don’t blame her }

interestingly enough — as inspired by the very phraseology of my first post here on the MassArt Blogs from yesterday, the phrase uncanny valley sticks in the skull a bit today — since my thesis, confounded: future fetish design performance for human advocacy, focused on humor, laughter and the area in-between, i feel there’s value in continuing my research, my thinking, my experimentation and design in this area of cyberSurrealism

in some ways my research still remains partially undone — it brings up more questions for me than answers and conclusions { which i hope is a good sign, perhaps the mark of value and timelessness in a certain kind of thesis } — a big part of my thesis involved defining and discovering my identity as an artist and designer and at times i inspired extremely helpful feedback from the audience out at our DMI Reviews — on one such occasion, a visiting faculty member followed up my presentation with an observation, a comparison really, saying that in a way i was providing an interesting commentary on our technological culture, he likened me to an Andy Rooney of new media design in a very complimentary way, although i hope i wasn’t coming off as whiny — so, if i am in some ways a design commentator, looking at and critiquing our society and the changes we encounter on an ever quickening basis due to our ‘progress,’ i don’t know, it made a lot of sense, this designation, but it also didn’t seem to fully suit me

but, seriously, folksBlack Humor leaks along with us as we go, as i ask you to look at the world as we see it today in 2013 { or fill in the year } through the critical eyes of a satirical, designer and performance artist — humor allows me to gently poke and prod the elephant on the table without then succumbing to the wrath of the beast itself and its crowded room of evangelists, fans and followers — and, let’s face it, as much as my relationship to technology as expressed through my research involves a ‘love / hate’ dynamic, its not a pure hatred, nor a pure love of the mediums in which we swim that i encourage and emote — i’m just asking for some sense of mirth in our self-reflections, in our much-needed after-analysis of the situations we’re auto-creating along the journey — and i’m also asking for some sense of realism as we inspect the vast systems we’ve created and live with on a daily basis — they’re not ‘all good’ in the hood, if you know what i mean? although the majority of people seem to almost unconditionally love their iPhones and automobiles, their laptops and office chairs

so, my latest spin — the next suit i get to try on as my persona du jour for size, at least for a little while, feels like it should be something more along the lines of:

lou suSi
your tourguide through the uncanny valley

this, to me, just makes a lot of sense at this point, right? i mean, think of those double decker bus tours of London and whatnot, and those dudes need to inform but also entertain — they point and give you a little story about this place or that person, and along the way we all seem to learn something and we realize what we might want to go back to during our visit there before we need to come home and put back on the happy mask of global neoserf capitalist consumer bliss and numbness

and so, maybe this stolen topic { thank you Laura :] }, this ‘from puppets to robots,’ seems like an interesting new spectrum to explore — taking a magnifying glass to these toy-like objects we control to play and tell stories and then examine the magic and personality we put into them via voice and dance and narration — and then looking just as closely at artificial intelligence, robotics { both sociable and not }, our devices originally made to serve us and make our quality of life soar while freeing up our valuable time for other, more leisurely pursuits — and then putting people, real genuine wetware flesh and blood, into the spectrum to see in what ways we play and serve depending on the systems, the strings, the self-invented forces we’ve constructed to make us dance, i think, yes, this is an interesting area for further research and thought and contemplation

from puppets to robots, revisited

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