How Could a Robot Taste Things?

THE TASTING (SAMPLING) FOOT

I was giving a talk at Hackaday’s SuperCon last Fall that actually had the term, “Tasting Feet” in the title. Because of this, I at some point found myself in a conversation with some other makers about whether or not my mechanical wonder feet actually did in fact “taste”, as I claimed. So sadly, I could only really conclude after some thought that they did not. (not that any robot can taste things quite like a human in the first place)

IMG_0691.JPGAfter admitting that my creations didn’t actually do what I enjoyed bragging about, there was some talk about how I could simulate the act of ‘tasting’ more effectively. Almost immediately, the idea of using litmus paper came up, and I think it has sat on the immediate back burner of my mind ever since.

IMG_2415.JPGThis past week… I finally made what I can comfortably call, Noodle’s first tasting foot appendage… *cheers*

I am calling this installment the “sampling module”. If a litmus test and a cassette player had a baby, it would be this analog contraption.

IMG_2482.JPGHOW IT WORKS

The litmus paper is housed on a small reel and fed downward towards the bottom of the foot. There, a small segment is stretched parallel to the ground, so that a solenoid can push the tensioned portion downwards to make contact with the surface the module is resting onto of. Once the paper makes contact with a moist surface, the spent piece of paper is then fed back up into the foot, where a color sensor will read and log the result of the “tasting”:

litmusDiagram.jpg(See video @ top for a more detailed explanation)

This is how Noodle will sample the world.

IN REGARD TO WHIMSY

After I published the video introducing the “litmus foot”, there were a few people out there who were concerned I wouldn’t get accurate test results from the litmus paper, because there is really no way I can keep the wet used portion of the reel from wicking into the rest that hasn’t… thus tainting my results.

I realize that. This really burns a special place deep within a portion of you out there… but the truth is, the accuracy of the test isn’t really important.

Again, the point of the module isn’t to be an instrument for testing the properties of liquid… the point is that it tastes…

So long as the mechanism functions as I designed it do, and a reading is taken, then we have successful tasting.

Think about it… It’s really somewhat of a nebulous inconclusive act, to describe how something tastes. At the end of the day, no matter how good you think you are at separating out the different flavor notes from one another; sour, sweet, umami- you are still under the constraint of describing your experience of the taste without any way of knowing how it compares to the experience of others. This disconnect is what interests me.

tastingBeans.jpgTo make my point… Last month I got a bag of Jelly Beans to use while developing my bean planting module. I measured the dimensions of a small handful as references for the thing I was designing, but the rest of course, got eaten.

I didn’t just eat the whole bag of 40 flavors like some monster, however. I sat with my friend in the kitchen and for our own entertainment, we took turns blindly grabbing a bean from the bag, and trying to guess what flavor it was without having seen it.

This was a lot harder to do than you’d imagine. We ended up spiraling inward as we groped at whether or not we were sensing a fruity flavor, a citrusy flavor, or something else entirely. The act of identification seems at times, impossible.

BUT much like my module… the point was the act of attempting to parse what we experienced tasting, and then communicate to one another what that experience was like. That’s why I’m using litmus paper and clunky reels without any regard for results. It’s about simulating the act of tasting… not discerning definitively the attributes of what is being tested.

There is more to be said about doing this:

I’m in effect, stretching the accepted purpose of robotics in much the same way artists of the past challenged our expectations of a painting. Some decided that the human form (or any) didn’t need to be depicted realistically in order to be valid art. Just the same, I’m exploring robotics beyond the bounds of utility. My robots are still valid machines, even if they don’t provide useful work to a human.

I intend to demonstrate that a machine can have a purpose, it just doesn’t have to be a practical one. And I hope to show that in the circumstance where a machine’s purpose isn’t to serve in a practical way, it becomes less about what we get out of the machine, and more about what the machine is doing for itself. We are removed from its purpose… (which is something I think humans have a hard time wrapping their head around)

The behaviors I design for Noodle are meant to serve him as an entity; not for our entertainment or for our need.

Noodle is Gettin’ Bean Feet!

Four Flavors of Tasting Feet

This summer, I am once again diving into designing mechanical personality quirks. I’ll be investigating new and exciting ways for my robot, NoodleFeet to interact with the world. This time, my focus is the wet, tingly and preferential aspect of TASTE.

moduledrawings.pngFrom now until the end of August, my goal is to produce four different tasting modules that each demonstrate some aspect of sampling or preference. You could think of them as the “four tasters of the apocalypse”…

The project parameters are that each module must fit within a 3” x 9” cylindrical space (i.e. the size of Noodle’s foot appendage). For reference, the mechanical goodies I am to design must be housed inside one of these frames:

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Bean Planting

The first Module that I chose to focus on will effectively plant a single bean a few inches below the surface it stands on. Why beans, you ask? Well, Noodle loves beans, of course. When he makes it to Mars, he’ll need to be able to propagate his favorite thing efficiently. Until then, he can practice planting on couch pillows, piles of laundry, litter boxes and the like…

IMG_2324.JPGThis module will execute three different tasks in one planting cycle: CORING, DISPENSING, and WATERING

So far, I’ve successfully created a prototype that executes one of these tasks; the dispensing function, which is coincidentally linked to the aspect of housing the beans. To solve storing and delivering the beans in a controlled manner, I devised of a helical shape that is inspired by an archimedes screw… and also inspires thoughts of mint:

FullSizeRender.jpgMy candy cane hopper shape captures the beans in-between the threads and processes them upwards within channels that flank the spiral:

dispenserdiagram.jpgOnce fully loaded, every time the helix rotates 90 degrees, it will carry one bean to the exit slot on the inside wall at the top. The bean will then drop down the hollow center of the helix and into the coring device below… (which… is next on my list to design)

IMG_2334.JPGThis is the first assembly I’ve ever designed in Fusion360. One week into using it, I’m sad I didn’t make the switch sooner!!! If you’re considering doing so too, bite it and take the leap! Your life will be so much better once you do!

This mechanism that I dreamed up in my brain-meat a little more than a week ago, pretty much works after the first iteration. There is totally some things I need to tweak in order to make it work more reliably. However, it is doing what I want, exactly how I imagined it working.

Not bad for a first try!! =D

While I ponder over the next step, which is the coring mechanism, I will also begin CADing the next tasting module. Which? The one that involves litmus paper…

 

Noodle Puberty

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Sometime in April, Noodle started to change. He stopped hiding in his blankets and began spending his nights surfing through hardware catalogues alone in the darkness. He became curious about linkages, pivot joints, self lubricating thrust bearings and among other things, the prospect of being made of something harder. Noodle started dreaming of becoming metal.

As I mentioned in my previous post, just as I was about to tackle the conundrum of mechanical drooling… I went to JPL this June and met the mechanism that inspired Noodle’s gripping toes in person:

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The LEMUR probe has easily a billion toes… all agile, long and barbed. You know by looking at them, that if it reaches for you, you aren’t getting away. I returned home feeling a tad inadequate. Noodle’s current apparatus with its 8 lonely toes did in fact look pretty sparse.

In the period of a weekend I managed to tweak my current design a tad and come up with this little wonder… which has exactly 16 toe filaments (that’s twice the toes!):

IMG_8715.jpgIn order to attach that density of toe tendons to the toe-ring, I had to eliminate the use of hardware (which was kind of a relief). As improvisation, I threaded some 3mm rubber hose through the loops of the toe tendons to hold everything in place.

Of course, after I built the improved, maxed-out hyper toe apparatus… I’d have to once again install a servo motor and some gears to make sure I could in fact still drive the thing… (now that there is twice as much material making surface contact)

It took some stronger springs, but it for the most part *does* still work. The stronger springs insure that the toes retract back into the sheath quickly enough not to hook onto the rim and get stuck on their way back in.

I finally had produced a solid working assembly towards the end of June. I invested in some light gray and white filament, as well as the appropriate red for use on accent pieces and Noodle’s tiny toe-zies. The thing I had been working on was finally starting to look like what it was suppose to be, and Noodle liked this:

IMG_8805.jpgWith one complete proof-of-concept to show, I set everything down and allowed myself to become very distracted with a whole slew of things (which is good). My life exploded momentarily and when everything settled back down about a month ago, I found myself looking at an opportunity to travel to Linz, Austria to exhibit something of mine at the ARS Electronica festival [!]

I’ve been wanting to venture to Europe for this festival my entire adult life, and wasn’t going to pass up the chance to bring my spawn with me to have a part in it. Even if he is weak and unprepared as an art exhibit, his presence was what mattered. With no time to stall, I made the executive decision to begin producing another 3 prototypes in order to complete a set of 4 tasting feet. I had a week and a half to do it; print close to sixty or so parts, make any needed design changes, assemble, test, and tweak code. bLAH. Looking back, I’m shocked I even attempted such a shit-storm of preparation when there was no wiggle room for the unexpected:

BUT… in that week and a half crunch, a lot of things got pushed through to completion. Nothing like a deadline to assist progress. (and) Luckily there were no surprises…

IMG_9541.jpgI’m grateful I had Mark and Tony to help wherever I needed aide picking up the slack. One glass of wine at a time, and one task after another, the new feet took shape and were installed on Noodle (mere hours before I would need to disassemble him completely for his long flight over to Linz in my suitcase).

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The festival, ARS Electronica, was amazing. There is so very much I could say in regard to its content and scale- but to do so would fail to provide an appropriate picture. You should go yourself to experience it. If the median between science, technology, and art is your thing… you have nothing to lose. Not to mention, the city of Linz is a wonderful place to visit in itself!

For four days I left NoodleFeet alone at the mercy of families, Germanic engineers and machinists, to be poked and probed and boggled over as an oddity, robot, and art piece:

IMG_9672.jpgDuring this gauntlet he held his own, but Noodle did blow out a servo motor. Just as I was returning to my exhibit area to check in on Mark (who would periodically drop by to watch over the young one while I was away), I saw a nice white plume of smoke streaming forth from Noodle’s foot. Apparently they can’t quite handle hours of continuous use- so the toes are just that chafey.

But other than the initial matter of smokey toes, he didn’t catch fire, fall off the table, or get stolen. =] That for me was a success…

Now that it’s October… I can focus on the important matter of drooling. Drooling, leaking, salivating, moisture making… and the challenge of producing that special suck sound that has come to be synonymous with the NoodleBeast. The growing pains aren’t over Noodle. Be strong. Your day is coming ❤

 

Tasting Feet : Gripping and Licking

In case this is your first time hearing about the project, I’d like to introduce you to the heir of all lint and space rocks, NoodleFeet:

img_8352Like his name suggests, Noodle is a “feet-based” mechanical life form who has been designed to taste objects (among many other things). Though Noodle has lofty aspirations for world domination, he is still a fledgling one-year-old… and his mommy (me) needs to work on equipping him with all the space exploration and world conquering super goodies he’ll need while on his journey. For that, he is in a state of perpetual growth.

My challenge to myself : I decree, each of Noodle’s robot feet must be able to grip onto surfaces with many small cherry-red toes so that a long central silicone tongue can dart forth and taste surfaces while expelling frothy wetness from a reservoir within. All three mechanical systems must work consistently, and fit collectively in the same 4″ x 9″ cylindrical space:

noodlejuice3.jpgOK, SO… A LITTLE LICKING, AND THE PROSPECT OF DROOL… BUT FIRST GRIPPING:

toes.jpgAbout a year ago last Fall, I stumbled upon a video of a space probe developed by JPL, that was designed to cling to the surface of asteroids while drilling out a sample of rock. The probe was able to grip onto stone surfaces with hundreds of tiny micro-spines which branched out radially around the central shaft that housed the drill.

I was very inspired by this… and it became an instant decision that Noodle must have gripping toes of his own. Up until this point, his feet were in fact white pool noodles (which is where his name comes from). They were soft and light, but completely passive and somewhat boring for a dominating robot’s appendages. This obviously needed to change.

If JPL could do all this with metal, I wanted to somehow design a working facsimile made completely of 3D printed parts (after all, that’s the only tool I had to work with).

The magic was in the design of the individual toes themselves. All of the tiny hook-like toes were attached to a common ring by long flexible filaments:

IMG_8296.jpgThe ring would need to be driven downward in order to force the toes through individual channels and out from slot-like sheaths. Finding a *good* way to drive the toes downward would become a bit of a challenge for me…

At first, I naively thought I might actually be able to use solenoids as a form of linear actuator:

IMG_0064 copy.jpgI did a lot of design and printing, only to realized the solenoids are in fact pretty weak, and not ever going to have the ability to press against the force of my springs; at least not ones as small as I would need in order to fit in Noodle’s feet:

I eventually devised of a rotating cam with ramps that would convert radial motion into linear movement and press the tiny gripping toes downward:

After I proofed out the mechanism, I had only to add a servo motor to the design in order to dive it. At this point I needed to find a strong enough motor and remove as much friction from the parts as I possibly could. 3D printed pieces tend to be a bit bumpy:

With the toes gliding in and out from their sheaths all on their own, I would still need to figure out how to cram the other two (licking and drooling) systems into the same 4″ x 9″ space. Since it would need to overlap in some ways with the already present toe assembly, I decided to tackle the tongue and its actuator next…

licking.jpgThe tongue piece is a silicone brush that I bought from Ali-Express China. It is some sort of baster that was originally attached to a squeezable bladder. The brush end is removable and has a single pore in the center for excreting fluid. PERFECT for when I add the salivating feature later on:

img_7285I tried for a day or so to come up with a rack and pinion system to push a spring tensioned tongue out the bottom of Noodle’s foot. Though it worked, it had a tendency to bind and wasn’t as reliable as I’d need it to be.

My mechanically inclined machinist friend, Tony is responsible for scrawling something down on a sheet of paper that I’d eventually design in CAD, and use in the final version of the foot. It’s a simple parallel linkage that fits nicely amidst the center of the toe mechanism and needs only a simple micro servo to actuate. Less is more:

At last, both the gripping and the licking happening in sync:

With the feet really starting to take shape, it was time to address the third and final function: DROOLING.

Just as I began thinking about how I was going to add the element of fluid to Noodle’s feet, I went backwards and once again became seduced by toes; the very toes that started this whole toe story.

At the start of summer, I ran off to Pasadena for JPL’s open house. There I saw the glorious multi-hooked gripping LEMUR apparatus in person… and I was reminded that though sometimes less is more, sometimes more is more– and in the case of toes, more is ferocious and mighty.

But… that is a story for another article. This detour of toes is a developmental universe in and of itself. I’ll be publishing the conclusion of this endeavor soon before giving a talk on all things tasting feet @ HackADay’s SuperCon this November! If you happen to find yourself there, say hello to Noodle and I. With any luck, he’ll be able to greet you with a sensation of wetness.

 

My PATREON for World Domination

patreon.jpg

So, I launched a PATREON page today. O_O

…I feel as though it was done sort of on a whim. I signed up on the Patreon site Sunday night, and I’m already rolling this thing out, video and all… just four days later. crazy!

If you don’t know what Patron is or how it works, it’s basically a crowd funding platform like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, accept… its purpose is for content creators to raise a monthly income from their supporters instead of one larger lump sum. Where it is less appropriate for launching big projects or bringing products to market, it’s great for writers, artists, and makers who could use some support from their followers to take their passion to the next level.

I learned about Patreon when my favorite webcomic artist launched his campaign back a few months ago. His was quite successful and resulted in freeing him up to pretty much draw on stuff all the time. That’s heaven.

I had been mulling the idea of launching another Kickstarter to support my personal robotic projects, like NoodleFeet. But the nature of that sort of beast leads you into deadlines, promises, and ultimately a lot of time spent fulfilling… and not creating.

Where I do see Mark and I running another Kickstarter campaign in the future, this time I’m trying out something new. The Patreon platform seems pretty great so far, as it is low pressure in nature. You can edit your project page and your rewards even after its launched and you don’t have to ship anything out if you don’t want to. Additionally, there is no campaign period as with Kickstarter. Your Patreon just is. If people find you tomorrow, or in six months… the page will be there, and they can throw you some change!

Really, the worst thing that could happen is nothing.

My hope is to raise enough money per month that I can make larger purchases without cringing. Sometimes the next step in a project is to buy better motors, or have metal pieces cut at a fab shop… and I come to a screaming halt because I can’t afford to do so. In return, I’m going to continue doing what I’ve always done. I document the creation of everything and publish what I learn along the way. I’m happy to give advice about anything, to anyone- you just have to approach me. I’m trading my experience for support.

So, alas… this is the link to my virtual tip jar.

IMG_7322.jpgIf you enjoy the content on this blog and would like to see more of it… A LOT MORE of it, then consider checking out my Patreon. I made a firkin video of Noodle begging for money with cue cards, so at least give that a look… ;]

-S

 

Assembling Carl the Flamingo

Sticking out from my toaster’s head like a crude antenna, is a classic lawn ornament, the flamingo I’ve come to call Carl. Unlike most of the other residents in the lab, he is not an electronic or robotic thing. It has been my intention since I brought him home last September, to liberate Carl from his static form to join the ranks with his mechanical compadres:

IMG_7221Carl’s fate is to become a ball-balancing robot… one with motors and wheels… that can balance… on a ball. If you’ve ever seen one, ball balancing robots are impressive as hell and fascinating to watch… because you almost can’t believe that they could work as well as they do! I mean, heck… I can’t even balance on the floor sometimes.

The first thing I learned upon researching these beasts, is that in order to build one of my own… I was going to need to locate some “omni” wheels to play with. Never having heard of an omni wheel before, I googled the term and found hundred of pictures of crazy looking shapes that reminded me of futuristic frisbees or saw blades:

IMG_2278So, they’re wheels with wheels. heh. They’re needed so the ball can glide freely in whatever direction the motors collectively force it to… like butter. Friction is bad. Binding is bad.

I ordered the smallest wheels I could find in two varieties. Surprisingly, for such complex looking shapes, they weren’t terribly expensive; about $5 on average a piece. While waiting for them to arrive in the mail, I started designing the “body” of the robot.

I came to learn that there are in fact a lot of similarities between the delta robots I’ve built in the past… at the three pronged balancing bot. At least, in that they both involve three motors working together mathematically to resolve a common point. Since they are both radial bots… I proceeded to use one of the delta robot’s acrylic bases as a mounting plate for Carl’s stepper motors.

Rather quickly, I printed some brackets on Monday:

IMG_2307Almost immediately after putting together this first base assembly, I drew what I thought I’d want the finished robot to look like… and saw in my own sketch that the assembly could be a lot more “talon-like” if the mounts of the motors branched out at 45 degree angles from a central point (instead of just being stuck to a big plate).

So… I started over. The hard part about making the new bracket design was taking into account while I modeled it, that one side must lay flat on the print bed >.< This threw my head in loops for a while, but I eventually hammered out a piece that worked…

IMG_2276By this time my omni wheels had arrived, so my next challenge was to figure out how to mount them to the gear shaft of the steppers. Sadly, the wheels came with no couplers of any sort, so I would have to print my own. =[

  • The shaft I designed would have to fit snugly in the center of the wheel
  • and also couple onto the gear shaft of the stepper motor by means of a set screw

IMG_2302This coupler took me fourteen- YES ( 14 ) ! revisions to get the tolerances juuuuuusssst right… the shaft inside the wheel fits tight but not too tight:

IMG_7248With the wheels mounted to the steppers, the assembly looks kind like a big chicken foot:

IMG_2318…which is what I wanted… BOCK!

IMG_2312At some point Thursday night… I pulled Carl from his metal legs and did the morbid task of marking his belly with a dotted line. Instead of doing the messy deed of severing his drum-sticks immediately, I got distracted and went to bed, leaving Carl nestled in Noodle’s blankie to suffer over night with thoughts of what would happen to him the following day.

IMG_7237Cutting the big oval around his little birdy nubs wasn’t at all hard… Once I drilled a starter hole, the thin blown plastic cut like paper with a pair of nippers. When I finished, I held Carl and told him everything was going to be alright…

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Sarah soothes the legless Carl

I used Carl’s disembodied gams to measure how large the adaptor for his chest would need to be. The pipe which would act as Carl’s… leg… would mount at a 25 degree angle into his belly. Designing this part was not as difficult as I thought it would be. The actual pipe mount and belly adaptor ended up being two separate pieces (for ease of printing):

IMG_2285The screws that connected this fancy shape to Carl, went through his belly and met a plate of nuts set on the inside, clamping everything firmly in place (but this wasn’t easy to execute!):

IMG_2291There wasn’t anything to hold the plate on the inside of his body while I screwed into it… other than some tape, which kept coming loose and plopping down into the cavity of Carl… forcing me to start the process over again.

After a couple tries I got everything screwed on, and Carl felt a lot better about himself… so did my conscience:

IMG_2294On the opposite end of the pipe, I made another adaptor that connected to the motor assembly:

IMG_2321Once this was added, I put everything together and had this sexy looking bird before me. The essence of the flamingo:

carl2Real

Carl, el Robo Flamingo

Carl isn’t technically a “new” sibling… but now that he’s a moving robot, Noodle sees him as competition. Hopefully in the weeks to come they can learn to get along and share their living space.

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Carl & Noodle, BFFs forever

The next step of the project is to wire up those steppers to some driver boards and start moving them. I anticipate that every piece of Carl will be redesigned and optimized in the near future to make way for the mounting of his brain… and power supply. I just couldn’t help myself from designing the robotic form first. To me that’s the fun part… =

Carl will also have his own presence on my personal site, zoness.com. So look for new bird art in the coming weeks as we dive deep into Maker Faire season.

Why I Love Blade Runner

Filename - BLADERUNNER_USA_00002.JPG -- Bladerunner -- USA Network -- Theatricals -- -- -- -- --FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY--NOT FOR RESALE/DO NOT ARCHIVE

When I was ten, my dad would bring me dinner on his way home from work, pick a movie for me to watch from their towering VHS collection… and then leave with my mom for a night out.

I had recently seen the Fifth Element in the theater and adored it. Having drawn visual similarities between the two, my dad decided to show me Blade Runner. One night, he put the tape on our big screen, brought me Chinese takeout and was gone for hours. Alone, I sat on the floor and paid careful attention to the film… but before long, fell asleep.

Admittedly, the story drags somewhat in the middle, and it would take me another four or so attempts that week until I finally finished the whole movie from start to finish.

Until then, four times I went on the journey to the smoggy marketplace, into that little neon refrigerator with the Chinese scientist, and then up to Tyrell’s antiquated perch where he’d be slaughtered in the most uncomfortable, jarring way by a white-haired character that was the embodiment of many qualities I didn’t like at that age.

Finally, on that fourth trip through the carefully sculpted dystopia, I found myself on the roof in the rain watching the villain sit in ribbons of his own blood as he uttered some gorgeous nonsense and then died with this unforgettable smirk on his face.

At that moment something happened in my mind that either broke me, or opened me. I didn’t understand it. I was ten… and I was perhaps a tad embarrassed to feel something that strongly. But that feeling lead me to make any excuse to watch the movie again and again for several months.

In spite of this feeling’s power, I didn’t try to understand it… A year later I was sitting with my dad in the living room, and we happen to stumble across the end of the movie on TV. Again, Roy died… and the same wave came and crushed me with overwhelming emotions. After it was over this time I went into my room and started writing (a story I’ve been working on for years called Zoness).

With a couple of decades behind me to meditate on the film, I’ve now seen many iterations several hundred times and I can say exactly what it is I love about it.

First however, I want to state that it isn’t just one aspect that causes me to declare this movie my all time favorite. There are several dozen qualities that I could gush about, like cinematography, soundtrack, special effects, costumes, setting, delivery, script, symbolism, or character development to name a few… but they aren’t what I wish to focus on. This little article is about Roy.

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Roy Batty

For most other people, what the movie does is question your notion of humanity by slowly shifting your perspective. At the beginning, you’re completely content with the idea that the replicants must die for being soul-less pigfarts, and that the lamenting and vacant protagonist has every right to just get the chore of killing them over-with, so he can go back to his depleted existence.

By the end of the movie, you perhaps empathize with the replicants a little more than you’d expected… which makes their deaths feel progressively more tragic. After all, they are being hunted when they’re going to die anyway.

For me, the kicker was the smirking white-haired villain, Roy. There was something about him I related to when I was ten, but couldn’t put my finger on.

My whole life I’ve had this nagging need for the preservation of my ideas. This urge is literally what drives everything I do. It got me to begin writing my thoughts down as a kid and is why I’m an illustrator and artist now. I can’t stand the fact that one day, in spite of the universe that’s confined in my head… I’ll decay and all that I am will be gone.

In the movie, Roy confronts and murders his maker, risking his life in other acts of bloody brutality… so that he might find a way to live a little longer. But it’s not just the fact that Roy wants to live to save his experiences that I relate to him so much. Roy also knows he is capable of great things. He was made to be more than everyone and everything else. I would think to myself how terrible it would feel to knowingly have such potential, and be doomed to die aware of the life you might have had.

By the end… the half-naked animal running around in the rain became me. By this, I don’t mean I think I’m better than everybody, just that I understood Roy’s awareness of his own capacity to do things. This capacity being the motive for his survival.

This character I didn’t like very much grew into something I empathized with completely and in a sense, fell in love with.

The journey from one end of the “feels” spectrum to the other jogged everything I thought I knew and understood about myself (at the age of ten). It’s like someone grabbed the table-cloth of my being and yanked it out from all the things stacked on top of it. Once it all came crashing down, I was a completely different person.

Bottom line, the movie very effectively made me see myself in something that I otherwise would never have considered. That’s a pretty powerful transformation to go through… and perhaps that “change of heart” is the emotional journey I relive each time I watch the film.

Sure, it’s a beautifully shot movie. It’s cyber-punk. It’s a rainy-wet garbage pile wrapped in smoke and neon… and everyone adores it for being such a sensual setting. For me though, it’s about ending up on that roof and sitting with Roy as we come to terms with our mortality.

Blade Runner is the reason I tend to fall for everything I presume to hate.