kacie kinzer’s tweenbots

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In lieu of a proper response to Latour (which will have to wait until another essay is finished)–a friend sent me a link to this project by Kacie Kinzer, a student at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, who is enlisting some nonhumans of her own making in order to explore the social dimensions of urban space:

In New York, we are very occupied with getting from one place to another. I wondered: could a human-like object traverse sidewalks and streets along with us, and in so doing, create a narrative about our relationship to space and our willingness to interact with what we find in it? More importantly, how could our actions be seen within a larger context of human connection that emerges from the complexity of the city itself? To answer these questions, I built robots.

Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal.

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Kinzer writes, “the Tweenbot’s unexpected presence in the city created an unfolding narrative that spoke not simply to the vastness of city space and to the journey of a human-assisted robot, but also to the power of a simple technological object to create a complex network powered by human intelligence and asynchronous interactions,” and argues that it’s a tendency to anthropomorphize the (smiley-faced) Tweenbot that motivates people’s interactions with it.  You can read more (and watch a short video of a tweenbot’s progress through Washington Square Park) at her website.

One Response to “kacie kinzer’s tweenbots”

  1. Sydney Says:

    I was about to post on this little robot as well. I was especially intrigued by Kinzer’s characterization of the bot not only provoking empathy, but also “of having intention without the means of achieving its goal alone.”

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