Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Brilliant and Adorable

David Eggers is a freaking genius: It took me a little while to connect 826 Seattle to the Greenwood Space Travel Company. But when I did, it made total sense - use a whimsical concept gift store to raise money for a nonprofit writing center for kids? Brilliant! What I totally did not know until yesterday was that 826 is nationwide and each tutoring center has a partnering whimsical concept gift store: LA has the Echo Park Time Travel Mart, New York has The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company, etc. This is possibly the coolest franchise idea I have ever seen in my life. I'm not usually big on chains, but rarely does one see a chain of stores that are this kooky and for such a good cause.

Now who could you say no to a face like that: Tweenbots is something that I wish we had a sister project of in Seattle. Kacie Kinzer of the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU did/ is doing a project on people's interaction with the pedestrian-level cityscape and is using the world's cutest cardboard robot to do it. This little guy can only roll straight ahead - if he's ever to get to his destination (written on a flag attached to his back), someone has to point him in the right direction. Literally.

Here's the best part - people actually do it. They see a little innocent cardboard box with only a motorized wheelbase and a smiley face to its name and say "Damn, that thing is adorable. Let's send it on its way."

Is this because we're programmed to love cute things so that we are convinced to put up with our young until they're old enough to take care of themselves? Is it because we pride ourselves in knowing our cityscape so much that we want to share this knowledge with others? Is it because we can empathize with vulnerability and being in situations where one cannot accomplish tasks by oneself? All of the above. It could also be because Kacie secretly placed a mind control ray in the robot and is testing it out under cover of a student art project. You never know.

Win quote from the artist herself:
The journey the Tweenbots take each time they are released in the city becomes a story of people's willingness to engage with a creature that mirrors human characteristics of vulnerability, of being lost, and of having intention without the means of achieving its goal alone. As each encounter with a helpful pedestrian takes the robot one step closer to attaining its destination, the significance of our random discoveries and individual actions accumulates into a story about a vast space made small by an even smaller robot.

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