Monash University
tr-2003-150-full.pdf (4.81 MB)

Artifact and Artifice : Building Artificial Life for Play

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posted on 2022-08-29, 05:02 authored by A Dorin
Toys and play-things are often engineered to replicate the character of real organisms. In the past, inventors often lavished great expense on their life-like automata, their constraints typically related to the mechanical technology they employed and the amount of time and effort they were able to commit to the enterprise. The devices which are currently produced are usually intended for the mass-market. The cost of production therefore is a major concern, even though the technology is more sophisticated and highly automated than in the past. Consequently, toy makers and engineers, as well as artists, of the past and present alike have had to think abstractly about living systems in order to economically construct their simulacra. This paper examines a number of life-like toys to discover the properties of real organisms which their designers have attempted to recreate. That we, as users of these devices, so readily recognize in them a degree of life-likeness, demonstrates the extent to which intuition may sway our intellectual reasoning about real biology. As a result, an innovative toy maker or artist is able to manipulate us to zoomorphize even the most extreme abstractions – at least momentarily — despite our rational reluctance to accept the trickery.


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