What would people do if they saw a tiny, lost cardboard robot rolling through Central Park? Well, one New York based student decided to find out.
Enter the Tweenbot, a simple little thing only capable of moving in a straight line and wrapped in a cheery cardboard shell. The Tweenbot has a flag sticking out of its back with its destination written on, and a message imploring passers-by to help it get there.
Now, on the mean streets of New York City, you’d expect a ten-inch tall cardboard robot to come to a sticky end right? Well you’d be wrong. Every single Tweenbot reached its destination intact, with some New Yorkers even going so far as to ignore the message asking them to point the Tweenbot in the correct direction, if that happened to lead somewhere dangerous.
The Tweenbot is the creation of Tisch School of Art student Kacie Kinzer. In her own words:
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.
Yep, she’s a student alright.
Kinzer followed each Tweenbot she sent out with a hidden camera in her purse and watched as her fellow New Yorkers helped her cardboard creation reach their goal. Kinzer has plans to expand the Tweenbot concept to further explore social narratives.
I don’t know about you, but this story brought a smile to my face. It’s heartening to know that even in these times of economic difficulty, that people can still find time to help a tiny cardboard robot.