Duck Duck Goose

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Natalie Jeremijenkos’ Project OOZ is representational of a zoo (ooz spelled backwards) however; in this type of zoo animals have the freedom to choose whether they stay or not and have no cages forcing them to stay. The Similarity between OOZ and the typical zoo we see today is that it encompasses a series of multiple locations where humans and animals can interact with each other. The interactions are different however in that OOZ “provides human a set of actions, the animal provide reactions and these couplets add to a collective pool of observations”. These interactions have two components: “1) an architecture of reciprocity, i.e. any action you can direct at the animal, they can direct at you and 2) an information architecture of collective observation and interpretation”. Within this interesting project are three areas of studies she did incorporating robotic geese, feral robotic dogs and amphibious architecture.

In Jeremijenkos’ Robotic Geese project, Jeremijenko designed remote controlled robotic geese that can be controlled by human participants or “goose drivers” (“goosers”) which enable them to interact and communicate with real live urban dwelling geese. Collaborators in this project include: Phil Taylor, the design engineer and fabricator of the robotic geese, The Vestal Design Group managing the prototyping, graphic and web design and Mariano Belinky as the Database adviser (Goosespeak). People would be able to embody the robot geese, follow them and communicate with them in ways that otherwise would be impossible without this revolutionary in-between placed between humans and geese through technology. You can even talk with the geese by means of robotic interface that delivers prerecorded “goose words” in their own vocal imitations like “goose flute hunting calls”. Whenever you decide to say something to the goose, a video camera records the actual biological response the geese gives you. The videos then upload to a database where participants can view their responses and interpret them. It is also interesting that the real geese attempt to understand the sounds the robot geese make and try to communicate with us at the same time. Some actions that you can do while being a goose is follow other geese, chase geese or be chased, and you can chase, attack, or talk to another person.
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The OOZ database that holds all of the video recordings of communications with geese demonstrates how “the computational (virtual) realm can be designed to have deliberate effects and relationships with the non-computations world”. What I find extremely interesting in this experiment is that the translations of the responses made by the live geese are translated by the very same people that drive the robot geese. So, there aren’t a set number of rules and guidelines that already deciphered the videos. You can choose for yourself what you think the animal is saying to you. This very fact is what I think brings across one of the major points of the project. I think Jeremijenko is trying to help humans understand animals better, and reconnect us in a way like people before us were connected to nature and animals. I believe she is trying to have us respect animals and see from their point of views by physically allowing us to embody a robotic goose and experience what they experience day to day with other geese and other humans as well.

– Alice Musher


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