The Shybots were an informal experiment demonstrating how little is needed to ellicit a sense of agency on an innanimate object. Philosophers of the mind such a Daniel Dennett call the phenomena of attributing intentionality to everything around us, the “intentional stance“. Perhaps our own sense of agency stems precisely from this kind of illusion.
In this new version comissioned for Microwave Festival 2021 (Yesterdays’ Fiction), an army of shybots greet the public as they walk a red carpet. These motorized cameras ressemble security cameras or avid reporters looking for a good shot; however, the moment the camera recognizes a face, it hastily looks away, ashamed of its intrusive attitude and avoiding eye contact.
The shybots V2.0 is an “intelligent camera” (ESP32-CAM) running a face recognition algorithm (MTCNN and MobileNet) returning the position of the face in the field of view of the camera. The camera is mounted on a gimbal with two degress of freedom, actuated y a pair of servos, each controlled by a PID feedback loop.
- Move on, nothing to see (aka Shy-Bots), A. Cassinelli, commissioned artwork Microwave Festival, Hong Kong, 30/10-14/11/2021