by Sena Clara Creston
The Huminal (as described by the artist) is designed to question the relationship between humans and the other. Machines, animals, strangers, our environment. In a cold, dimly blue-lit space, an animalistic humanoid robot paces back and forth in front of the entrance to a fiery red cave. It’s a sentry protecting its lair. When the Huminal “senses” an intruder in the space, it stops and turns its head and glows red, voicing its displeasure, fear and aggression. The viewer is then forced to respond to this challenge, deciding whether to heed the warnings of a being of unknown power and back off, or confront the Huminal as an artwork to be examined and understood. Upon inspection, familiar materials reveal a second ambiguous relationship. The Huminal and cave are built from discarded plastic water bottles and plastic bags; the bringer of life and the polluter of land. We made this angry environment where we are not welcome.
I have been contracted by the artist to rebuild the Huminal’s innards. I designed it a custom PCB and rewrote the control software. I was able to remove a number of components, reducing the size and cost of the electronics. The software is also far more understandable, reliable, and configurable. This is still a work in progress, but the ultimate goal is to make the creature reliable enough to run in an extended gallery exhibition with near-zero maintenance required — just recharging the batteries each night.