Heddon Jitterbug

I am enamoured with the products of both leading and trailing-edge technologies providing they are CHEAP and READILY AVAILABLE. This is far more likely to be an attribute of trailing-edge technology, but there are surprising exceptions. Witness the $15 computer-on-a-chip available from Microchip. Already having squandered too many brain cells learning the awkward syntax of computer speech, I've gone and blown a few more, just so I could program these little wonders. This time it was worth every synapse.

My biggest problem with computers is that they're far too alike... keyboard, mouse, video screen... you see one you've seen them all. This is not the fault of computers; rather it comes from designers' narrow ideas about what computers are good for. I reflect a lot about various, very customized ways whereby computers could interact with humans and the world in general. Mostly this takes the form of tinkering with robots. My inventions usually find their way into my art, after I've purged away any traces of usefulness, of course.

In retrospect, I think my love of robotics began with a childhood love for fishing. Mostly I liked to fish for bass, because it gave me the opportunity to fish with "plugs" (called "crankbaits" these days -- a term I avoid). Above is a picture I made, using Corel Paint, of one of my favorite floating plugs, the Heddon Jitterbug, in its "Yellow Perch" finish. Of course a fish, looking from underneath, could hardly appreciate the paint job. The only thing that really mattered anyway was how the lure behaved. If I simply pulled the plug through the water, it had a kind of "wallowing" action, like a swimming mouse. Or with patient and creative twitches of my rod tip I could make the thing look like an injured minnow. In short, it was up to me to turn this unseemly garish conglomeration of chrome and plastic into something subtly alive! Thus were planted the seeds of my fascination for making robots... the possibility of creating some very artificial-looking thing with wires and tubes sticking out of it which might in some small way take on the subtle functional attributes of a living organism.

Work in progress -- the Heddon River Runt

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