frankie is a documentary robot that interviews people about their emotions, attempting to ‘learn’ what it means to be human. It responds to emotions both with language and eye movements, creating computer-generated, emotion inspired videos. This website is an archive of the robot’s research.

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About frankie

More conceptual stuff:

As a form of “automatic” documentation that allegedly excludes the artist authorship, frankie questions notions of representation and participation. A deliberately well-exposed surveillance camera, it examines issues such as agency, control, and privacy, questioning how they effect us in a world in which every second is documented and mediated. It reflects upon the manner in which we choose to perform and present ourselves in the digital age, and how this ultra narcissistic world effects our perception of the other.

Frankie’s name is a reference to frankness – honesty, directness – and also to Frankenstein – the well known myth on the hubris of creation. It is in fact a physical version of a chat bot, hinting to The Turing Test, and the questions it entails about telling the difference between a human and a machine. frankie also references Eliza, the first 70s Chat Bot that was designed to resemble a psychoanalyst, and questions the “Eliza effect” – a phenomenon which causes people to treat an artificial being like a human being.

 

Technical secrets:
 
Frankie is controlled by an android application, installed on a mobile phone and utilizing capabilities such as face detection, voice recognition and text-to-speech. Frankie's algorithm enables it to voice a question, listen to the answer, analyze it and determine a following question. Frankie's decision making is based on the context of the conversation, key phrases and key words, that may also cause Frankie’s “eyes” and “neck” to move, attempting to mirror the feelings expressed by the interviewee. The movement is generated via a IOIO device, that conects the Android to Dynamixel motors through an Arduino microcontroller. 
 

Who are we?

Frankie was created by Maayan Sheleff, Eran Hadas and Gal Eshel.

Maayan Sheleff is an independent curator. This year she participated in ARTPORT Residency, Tel Aviv, where frankie was born. Until recently she was the Curator at the CCA, Tel Aviv. She curated numerous projects, among them in ARTLV, the 1st Tel Aviv Biennial, the Science Museum in Jerusalem, ISCP, NY, and The Metropolitan Museum for Photography, Tokyo, exploring the mediums of moving image, performance and new media. She received several scholarships to participate in programs such as Steirischer Herbst festival in Graz, Austria, and ICI's curatorial intensive, NY.
 

Eran Hadas is a software developer, poet and new media artist from Tel-Aviv. He is the author of 5 poetry collections in Hebrew. He creates hypermedia poetry and develops software based poetry generators whose input is the internet. His fictitious female poet persona is considered to be the largest hoax in Hebrew poetry. He is a member of "Cultural Guerrilla", a group of activist artists that accompanies social campaigns.

Gal Eshel has an interdisciplinary background, educated in psychology, computer science and cinema. He Worked in Sun Microsystems and Intel as a software engineer, and as an editor in Israeli prime time television in various genres. Gal is currently splitting his time between creating prototypes for Intel and working as an independent robot creator in Tel Aviv.

 

Thanks:

To Art Port management, team and artists for their great support, trust, encouragement and assistance. To Yair Reshef who ingeniously hacked a television so Frankie will have a beating heart. To the wonderful Dr. Guy Hoffman who was a helpful advisor from the very beginning. To Michael fink from google Israel, Ohad Meyuhas from the Fablab in the Israeli institute for digital art in Holon, Pazit Sheleff, Mushon Zer Aviv, Shmulik from Decada, Tsila Hasin, Lior Zalmanson, Meir Tati, Ori Shechter, Tom Dor, Renana Neuman,  and many other kind and valuable advisors and supporters.
Most of all to all the interviewees who trusted frankie and helped its’ research.

Photographs by Dan haimovich and Maayan Sheleff

 

 

 


 

Frankie's tour

  • > 18.07.2013 / 27.07.2013 >
    Artport Residency, Tel- Aviv, Israel
  • > 05.09.2013 / 09.09.2013 >
    Ars- Electronica festival, Linz, Austria
  • > 11.09.2014 / 12.10.2014 >
    Paraflows festival, Kunstlerhaus, Vienna
  • > 09.10.2014 / 12.10.2014 >
    Art in odd Places Festival, NYC
  • > 02.11.2014 / 02.11.2014 >
    Ace Hotel NYC
  • > 13.11.2014 / 15.11.2014 >
    Residency Unlimited, Brooklyn, NY
  • > 17.11.2014 / 17.11.2014 >
    Connecticut College, CT

An ongoing experiment

Frankie is collecting information and learning how to improve it’s skills in every location it visits. This is only the beginning of a very experimental research project, and we hope that you will be able to see the progress as the locations accumulate. Mistakes, repetitions, ackward silences and miscommunication are not only part of being human, but also part of being a machine…

We welcome your feedback, from suggesting possible questions frankie can ask, to invitations to more venues and new adventures.

If you participated in the project, first of all we want to thank you deeply for helping frankie’s research. Please note that we don’t upload all the interviews, only the one’s in which frankie was either at it’s best or at it’s worst… but we do learn from all of them.

Contact frankie

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