It isn't an accident when people romanticize Jessica Field's machines. "I noticed that in writing programs interesting glitches would happen," says Jessica. "The robot would exhibit interesting and very unexpected behaviours that I could not help anthropomorphizing into 'feelings.'" The Oshawa artist was working on an Autonomous Robot, nearing the end of her education including OCAD's Electronics for Artists and beginner programming courses, and became interested in creating narratives with electronics modeling human behaviours; she wondered how people would react, considering our human desire to relate everything to "human-ness."
"The biggest reaction is people are surprised that my work is art," says the artist. "And that art can be amusing and offer an enriching performance to an audience without the creator being around." When an audience views Jessica's work they cannot help but empathize with the machines. The electronics can only do what Jessica has programmed them to do, anything beyond that - in terms of exhibiting human behaviours - is human creativity building an illusion that a robot can think and feel.
With this human need to personify alien concepts, Jessica is able to offer a social commentary: "One of my big preoccupations is exploring the idea of are we more or less than the sum of our parts. Can mimicry of life offer insight into the human condition?" Though robotics tends to sound very technical and logic-minded, Jessica rightly describes her creations as modern day magic. "I create mechanical wonders that aim to create a sense of magic while at the same time embodying humour and an edge of tragedy. My work uses technology to produce allegories that focus on the discontentment inherent in life and our failure to make sense of the world as it rapidly changes around us."