Saturday, February 23, 2013


Here's the latest in my Artificial Emotional Intelligence series for AlphaBots. I'm learning quite a bit about emotions in researching this project. Except that I'm ending up with more questions than answers.

For instance, disgust to me seems absolutely fundamental & visceral, more physical than mental at least in its roots, yet some think it's an emotion that must be learned. I suppose that's true in some cases, but if you've ever seen a baby eat something bitter, this robot's expression will look quite familiar.

I recently read an article about people with trypophobia--  extreme revulsion at the sight of clustered holes. I found most of those images appealing actually, but I love all sorts of patterns in nature. On the other hand, hair in a bathroom drain gives me the major creeps, beyond all reason.

There does seem to be a fair degree of variability & irrationality involved in disgust. What disgusts you that others don't mind? What do you find tolerable that grosses others out? Do you think these reactions were "hard-wired" or did you acquire them over time? Do you find context important? Do you think disgust is always related to fear?

I tried to make this robot look something like a bitter pill, or perhaps a bacterium of some sort... luckily a shape that Illustrator's gradient mesh seems to comprehend a little bit more easily.  That gave me time to get a little carried away with a rivet effect using the dotted line stroke.

My Illustrator interest may have crossed the line into obsession. The other night I dreamed I was trying to control my husband's snore volume using Bézier curve handles, & getting very frustrated with Illustrator when it didn't work! Perhaps that's my subconscious telling me that I'm asking too much of this program? In this case an old-school poke in the shoulder was much more effective. ;-) At least I woke up laughing, which isn't always the case when the snore volume goes to 11!


  1. Awesome. I like hearing about the steps in your thinking that lead to the shapes, colors, and other choices you make for your images. I have never been a fan of art using the computer, but your images may persuade me otherwise.

  2. This is an interesting post. Not only due to your DisgustBot (which is apparently very disgust) but also due to your writing about Trypophobia. Personally ( and luckily ) I do not have such problems :) ! But sometimes I feel kind of fear if my computer is target of a kind of spambot as on your picture. Recently has a spambot (IP adrees from Moscow ) "extensive interest" in my blog and my gmail so I have to remove constantly "suggestions how to improve my manhood" (poor people they do not know they are here on wrong adress , of course) :)

    Secondly I get a light Trypophobia fear combine with disgust when I see clusters of a panel buildings constructed of pre-fabricated, pre-stressed concrete, such as those extant in some cities (or even in Artichokistan) .
    Well, it is enough for today. Greetings from the white Kingdom of Artichoke!

  3. It's like a Mr. Yuck sticker come to life.

    The only thing I can think of that seriously oogs me out is the feeling of having my fingernail caught on fabric like felt or fleece. Can't explain it and I can't pinpoint where this revulsion originated, but it is there.

  4. I can understand why trypophobia might make people uncomfortable. And it might be hereditary; I remember my brother and I didn't like the look of wood burning in the fireplace if it was real speckly and detailed. Hard to explain. I wonder if trypophobia is something primal, something related to our evolutionary past?
    I know one thing everyone is disgusted by: hairy moles. ha.