Alden’s ITP Home

Uncanny Sandra


I love the premise of Sandra but I can’t help but wonder what kind of system could instantaneously categorize and direct all of these requests but couldn’t formulate automated responses for most of them. Does it go more into detail about what ends up happening? There is something in the show about the current economy’s preference for high-abstraction capital (algorithms, systems, connections) over labor, like the company Alia Shawkat is working for is the service economy equivalent of an old steel factory. How would the world be different if our high technology products created an ongoing demand for “low skilled” blue color labor, within America no less, on par with the mid 20th century industrial factory-based economy, instead of Mechanical Turk. What would the political implications be, what would the national mood be like, what would the cultural artifacts of this world be like?


In work that I’ve made that evokes human-ness I tend to avoid direct representation and instead accentuate the roboticness or unrealness of what I’m making, mostly as a means toward defamiliarization, undoing the illusions of perfect smoothness that consumer design has embraced. In this I felt unexpected kinship with David Hanson after reading Upending The Uncanny Valley, who I had previously thought of as a snake oil hack. Now I still think he’s a snake oil hack but at least is a self aware provocateur, someone pursuing a line of reasoning and seeing how far he can get.

All this uncanny valley talk resonates with the work we are doing in Performative Avatars, so I wanted to post this video we watched for that class, Goodbye Uncanny Valley. Going by the categories of this video, David Hanson is clearly working in the “Wilderness”.


I wanted to recreate a text adventure kind of experience in DialogFlow, like Colossal Cave Adventure or Zork. Well I couldn’t really even get it off the ground, there doesn’t seem to be a way to consistently control the “state” i.e. keep you in a room or give you an inventory because built in is the expectation that the user/player could change anything at anytime. Given this I couldn’t find any affordances with the technology.