Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Futureworld, Present Tense

I am almost creeped out beyond words. I just read a post on and viewed a video of a robot on And I Am Not Lying, For Real. The video should be innocuous - it merely shows testing of a four-legged robot to see how well it navigates uneven surfaces. The thing is, the way this robot moves? Brrrr. It is just waaaay too life-like. Honestly, it looks like a headless animal. The testers even kick it, and it staggers just like a dog.

Jeff at I Am Not Lying explains the disturbing nature of this video excellently, and you should go check his thoughts out for yourself. Honestly, I don't think I've been quite so squicked out by an animatronic figure since Herbie Hancock's Rockit video. Heck, that one still makes me scream a little when I see it. The question is, why am I so fascinated that I can't stop subjecting myself to these videos over and over again, even though they make me a little queasy and dizzy every time? Perhaps they are sort of a safer version of an adrenal gland-stimulating trip through Castle Dracula? Or perhaps they just invoke the specter of man-as-machine by being too lifelike, giving one a sort of spooky uncertainty about how to distinguish life from death, consciousness from physical manipulation? Freaky, freaky stuff...

Although I am almost loathe to display them here, you be the judge...

The DogBot


Yikes. The doglike 'bot turns out, by the way, to be aptly named "BigDog", and you can see more about it and other slightly less scary robots at Boston Dynamics. Oh, and the Rockit video was directed by Godley & Creme, formerly of 10cc, who directed quite a few groundbreaking videos back in the day.

One last note - in pondering this I somehow accessed a horrifying scene from my early childhood. I was watching some program, and it involved a person's face coming off to reveal that they were actually a robot. In retrospect, I'm sure the effects were rudimentary, this being the early 70s, but it left a huge impression on me at the time (nightmares about my parents being robots and whatnot). I've been scouring the internets trying to figure out what it was, but I can't figure out if it was even a movie or a television show. The closest things I can find are references to a film called Futureworld, although I can't be sure it wasn't an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man. I'm pretty sure the robot, however, was a woman. If you have any idea what show this might have been, I'd love to know!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

THATis the creepiest thing I've ever seen next to the special effects in ghost/insane asylum movies where the people or ghosts' heads move warp-speed side-to-side! The Cap'n ain't ready fer this new-fangled crap! It's scary!