Is it the way the giant eye stares down at us or the way the trunk recoils and adjusts in response to human motion- that makes this artificial creature seem alive? It is the interaction between human and machine that artist Golan Levin explores in his sculpture, “Double-Taker (Snout)“
How we interact with non-human species, living or artificial, depends upon our ability to empathize with them. So Levin has created an artificial creature, a robotic arm sheathed in a snout-like skin with a single giant googly eye that behaves as if it were alive. It does this with just the bare minimum of activity- just enough to evoke empathy.
Installed above the entrance to the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, ”DoubleTaker” is programmed with motion
sensors to react to the movement of visitors who approach the entrance. Double Taker derives its name from the reaction that the animated trunk has when visitors appear, as if its surprised to see humans and is unsure of their intentions. Double-take also describes the reactions of visitors when they realize the giant robotic cyclops behaves in a way that one associates with living creatures. The sculpture seems whimsical like a giant puppet at first glance, but its behavior is calculated to make us consider -in a conceptual double-take- the line that separates living creatures from artificial ones.