Animatronic Flesh Shoe
Animatronic Flesh Shoe

Animatronic Flesh Shoe

Date: 2004
Client: personal project - has been displayed in art galleries worldwide
Media: Latex, Steel, Gear motors, Printed circuit, Rio MP3 Player, Batteries, Staples, Roommates Hair.
Scale: Size 10 shoe

The shoe is stitched together with multiple pieces of latex rubber cast out of molds made from my own skin. The shoe's toe and heel raise and lower as it occasionally vibrates/pulsates, and twitches on the floor as if it were still alive. The movement is not constant, and usually causes people to jump back while they are in the middle of leaning in for a closer look.

Artist statement
In our modern world of fast and easy consumption, we rarely pay any thought to where products actually come from and how they were produced. Many times we assume mass produced items were simply built by a series of machines. Unfortunately the reality is that we usually exploit other humans to produce goods as cheaply as possible. We place our well-being over that of others, sometimes for trivial objects.

As this piece deals with issues of sweatshop labor and content ownership, each piece of "skin" (cast in latex from my own) is different in color, size, and texture. The Nike Logo is done in white and placed prominently on top. The shoe’s toe and heel raise and lower as it occasionally vibrates/pulsates, and twitches on the floor as if it were still alive.

While the shoe is disturbing, the reality behind the issue is even more so.  We live in a culture that is disconnected from what it is doing to itself and others. We choose to ignore it, rather than deal with the reality we have created for ourselves.

 V1.1 (Revamped for 2005)
While the V1.0 circuit was good, I felt it was time to updated the internals. So before the Xpace Gallery show, I designed and printed a new board with all the timings to control the 3 motors. The newer design also required less internal space.

The shoe uses a circuit to interpret signals sent out from an MP3 Player (Rio PMP 300), and converts them into on/off commands which it sends to the motors. The circuit works the same way the VU analyser on a stereo works (the lights that bounce up and down when a song plays). It uses a LM3915n chip, but instead of outputting to lights, the signal is converted from a negative pulse to a positive one, (with a 4049) boosted (with Tip 122's) and then sent to the motors. This gives the appearance of random movement, with no need for programming as highs and lows in the song will determine when and how the shoe moves.

Thank you to Bas for the Free Mp3 player, and thanks to Doug Back for help with the original circuit.