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Teddy Ruxpin tells the emotional temperature of the internet
June 28, 2012 11:32 AM   Subscribe

TED (Transformations, Emotional Deconstruction) is a large, wall-based installation created by Sean Hathaway, consisting of an array of 80 Teddy Ruxpin dolls that speak emotional content gathered from the web via synthetic speech with animated mouths.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (31 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think this is one of those things I'd rather imagine than actually see. As I imagine it, it's brilliant, and I'd rather not spoil that.
posted by lodurr at 11:33 AM on June 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is a joke, right?
posted by swift at 11:33 AM on June 28, 2012


I wanted all of the dolls to be incorporated into one entity - I imagined it kinda like the colonists that were cocooned in Aliens. How disappointing that they were just hanging on the walls in a regular pattern.
posted by MsVader at 11:43 AM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


That is fantastic. I wish they were dangling from the ceiling on those wires with the spotlights pointing down and the room lights turned down low, just a nightmare forest right above your head that sometimes glues you to the spot with a bright light and a robot voice.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:46 AM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sounds interesting... just, for the love of god, don't do a TED talk about it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:47 AM on June 28, 2012


Sounds way more interesting than the movie of the same name that just came out.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:48 AM on June 28, 2012


That was actually not as creepy as I expected. I'd like to know why he chose Teddy Ruxpin as the mouthpiece for the internet.
posted by book 'em dano at 11:50 AM on June 28, 2012


This is exponentially better than any of the other TED Talks.
posted by latkes at 11:54 AM on June 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


i want to do the same thing except with each teddy reciting an earnest TED talk about improving the water for starving children through social media.
posted by Damienmce at 11:59 AM on June 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Still somehow creepier than a Nazi in an Elmo costume.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:04 PM on June 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


I saw something similar in San Francisco in '07, except it was a bunch of text screens streaming random content from IRC, blogs, and a few other places where there were lots of streams of "thought". This seems more coherent, what with the spotlight. Not sure how I feel about the narration. Memory says that the little screens spoke as well, but I ignored that since I could just read them faster.
posted by lysdexic at 12:13 PM on June 28, 2012


Please tell me this isn't a viral ad for Seth MacFarlane's new movie? (GOD I GET IT IT'S ABOUT A TEDDY BEAR THAT TALKS AND DRINKS HA HA LIKE THAT SHOW WITH A DOG THAT TALKS AND DRINKS AND AND HEY HE HAS THE SAME VOICE IMAGINE THAT.)
posted by JHarris at 12:13 PM on June 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Reminds me of lot of Listening Post, the installation at the London Science Museum, but kinda gimmicky and less interesting. Listening Post is fairly beautiful and wonderful, however.
posted by howfar at 12:20 PM on June 28, 2012


ohgodno.

When I was little (3 or 4, I think?) my aunt got me a Teddy Ruxpin and a Grubby. She was thrilled! I was less so. I mean, they were cool and all but when I wasn't playing with them they sat on a the top shelf in my bedroom and at night they would talk to me and I'd end up screaming my little head off. I assume they were just nightmares but those are some of the most vividly terrifying memories I have from my childhood and I've never been able to convince myself that Teddy didn't have it in for me. So, um, cool and all, but I'll pass on this particular exhibit, thanks.
posted by alynnk at 12:22 PM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


book 'em dano: I'd like to know why he chose Teddy Ruxpin as the mouthpiece for the internet.

Because a fish was already taken.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:25 PM on June 28, 2012


I'm pretty convinced that Teddy Ruxpin's origins lay in some upstart young marketing executives doing blow all night and trying to figure out how to sell Videodrome to kids.
posted by griphus at 12:26 PM on June 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


A dog would have been a good choice...
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:27 PM on June 28, 2012


Still somehow creepier than a Nazi in an Elmo costume.

How about Elmo in a Nazi costume?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:38 PM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know what would be creepy? Somebody's old, abandoned Teddy Ruxpin in a dirty, beat up Elmo costume, panhandling on the corner. Wouldn't that be creepy? Somebody please get on that.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:47 PM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Quiet! Don't spoil Ted's shocking ending!
posted by JHarris at 12:54 PM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


This has so much more potential. And apparently an artist did use them (albeit stripped and reprogrammed) in an installation.
posted by book 'em dano at 1:04 PM on June 28, 2012


That was actually not as creepy as I expected. I'd like to know why he chose Teddy Ruxpin as the mouthpiece for the internet.

It makes sense to me, insofar as Teddy Ruxpin was one of the first talking children's toys with a certain level of programmability, since the premade story tapes supplied both audio and motion-cues for the doll. It's only a short leap to pipe text-to-speech through it.
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:09 PM on June 28, 2012


You know what would be creepy? Somebody's old, abandoned Teddy Ruxpin in a dirty, beat up Elmo costume, panhandling on the corner. Wouldn't that be creepy? Somebody please get on that.

Unfortunately, by buying the rights to "Supertoys in Other Seasons", Steven Spielberg has effectively blocked us from getting to see how Brian Aldiss would treat that scenario.
posted by lodurr at 1:31 PM on June 28, 2012


Oops, actually that should have been "Supertoys When Winter Comes." My bad.
posted by lodurr at 1:32 PM on June 28, 2012


immense.
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:17 PM on June 28, 2012


Nice - cute toys are easy fodder for art projects when you juxtapose them with something more adult / less cute.

For one of my fine arts undergrad projects, I gathered 10 teddy bears, found matching colored fabrics, cut their faces off, then gave them new iron-on faces of the FBI's most wanted list. I think I made little bio-cards with info from the FBI list for each one. They still retained a lot of their cuteness, but they were a lot less lovable.
posted by p3t3 at 3:01 PM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


With a splash of interactivity and a feed to yahoo, we may finally get a more robust answer to the great question of life.
posted by FatherDagon at 4:13 PM on June 28, 2012


Having had a Teddy Ruxpin when I was a kid, I can make two observations completely unrelated to this art project:

1) Teddy Ruxpin, unbeknownst to me at the time, was apparently a HUGE status symbol; today, when I mention that I had one, people roll their eyes, and make some comment about how we must have been rich (which we were NOT, believe me...); and

2) TR wasn't really that much fun; the stories got boring, and he wasn't that huggable, because he had a tape recorder built into his back.
posted by TropicalWalrus at 7:32 PM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


TropicalWalrus, this is true. I felt very bad that I didn't really enjoy the Teddy Ruxpin I got, as much as I had begged for one, and never mentioned that to anyone. This was pretty much how it went with Cricket, the talking doll. She was square inside. No hugging. (The doll I got was pre-broken, but I didn't get all that interested in getting a new one.)
posted by Countess Elena at 8:48 PM on June 28, 2012


Oh!!! I actually baby-sat this thing for a couple days, when it was on display at Launch Pad gallery in Portland. It was surprisingly *much* more hypnotic than creepy.

Since the words "I feel" were the only common element to the Teddies' missives, they covered quite a range in terms of depth and sentiment. I know I have a few choice statements written down somewhere, but the best ones I remember are "I always feel disgusting after I eat," "I feel I can no longer trust you with the children," and - my absolute favorite - "I feel like I am going to explode or implode, whichever comes first, and it is all I can do to keep from tearing my fucking skin off."

There used to be a store in Portland called Wacky Willy's, that was a dumping ground for odd surplus items, from paint to medical supplies to, at one time, hundreds of Teddy Ruxpin dolls. I'm glad somebody found a... *use* for them... I think....
posted by Mrrranda at 10:19 PM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man - I was hoping they would all be talking at once. That would have been exponentially more creepy.
posted by antifuse at 6:19 PM on July 19, 2012


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