© Ralph Kistler and Jan Sieber

15th Art Division New Face Award

Monkey Business

Interactive art

Ralph KISTLER / Jan SIEBER [Spain]


With this interactive installation a cuddly toy monkey imitates the gestures of the player. Ten built-in servos driven by sensors and a microcontroller enable the ape to trace smoothly the human movements. The work borrows the form of a monkey to present an ironic approach to the fact that people are more gravitated to a cuddly toy by finding him even more human-like than a robot that is designed to look exactly like a human being.

Reason for Award

Exploring similarity & sympathy via a mimic monkeyAt the core of the act of imitation is the fact that the copied object and the copying subject are, from the start, different in nature. They do not resemble one another at all. It is only in the act of imitation that their resemblance — their shared essence — is realized. Creating something that appears identical is fundamentally different from creating something that behaves identically. How much pointless research into humanoid robots has been done without realizing this fact? To achieve identity/identification between two things that are fundamentally different: this is the foundation of communication. The true function of media should have been here. This is why the simple imitation of sarugaku developed into the Noh theater, an art that conveys something entirely different, namely yugen (elegant simplicity). Monkey Business involves a monkey puppet that mimics human behavior. This playfulness possessed sincere love, an element that necessarily accompanies the pursuit of truth. The bravery of that behavior displays the dignity of the human spirit itself.