The X-rated "Sexpo" trade event which took place in Melbourne, Australia, last week featured everything from an imposing 66-foot "Love Rocket" ride and a "Gerbil Sex Train" to live appearances from a variety of adult industry names (who, upstanding citizens that we are, we've naturally never heard of).
One of the most bizarre sights, however, was surely a computer-controlled stripper robot constructed out of mannequin parts and boasting a CCTV camera for a head.
Created by British artist Giles Walker, it was yet another convergence point between the adult and tech worlds -- and one which cost $3,100 to hire for the event.
"I started as a scrap artist building sculptures from what could be found in the scrap yards, and therefore was familiar with the parts available from scrapped cars," Walker told Digital Trends. "In the case of these robots, I used windscreen wiper motors to move the body parts. These motors turn on and off with a simple programmable PCB. The figures consist of a metal armature, clad in plastic body parts cut from old mannequins and resprayed."
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Their creation, he said, was part of an attempt to build a robot capable of exuding some degree of sex appeal.
"Most [of] the 'sexualised' robots you see remind me of the living dead," Walker noted. "I was up for the challenge and wanted to see if I could turn a pile of old scrap into something that could represent anything close to 'sexy.'"
There's even a social message thrown in for good measure.
"I was looking at voyeurism and the power relationship that exists between someone like a stripper and their audience," he continued, referring to the CCTV cameras which blur the lines about who is being objectified: the faceless dancers or their patrons.
Walker also said that the robots reference his home country of Britain, which is one of the most surveilled places on Earth. "At the time I was building these sculptures the U.K. was being flooded with CCTV cameras," he said. "They were everywhere, like mechanical 'Peeping Toms' on every street corner."
The artist stressed to Digital Trends that his creations are not robots in the truest sense, however. "They are not technically robots," he noted. "They have no AI. I am a kinetic artist and these are simply kinetic sculptures."
He first built these particular pieces almost a decade ago, although they continue to be popular -- as evidenced by their most recent booking. In the meantime, he has continued to develop his themes -- and interest in similar robots.
"I have built many animatronic figures and installations since [then]," Walker said. "These sculptures have included drunks, prostitutes, and homeless. The largest project was an installation involving 13 full-size animatronic figures. It was an interpretation of The Last Supper. This is going to be shown at The London Science Museum for three months starting in March 2017."
Hey, when it comes to modern art, you can't go wrong with robots!