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Best Of 2020

(January – December 2020)

Roberto Mancuso

Milan, Piazza Duomo with blue light

Yischon Liaw

Bebot at the Piazza

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

December 21, 2020, 11:25 GMT-5

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© 2020 Yischon Liaw, All Rights Reserved.


Originally built for Burning Man 2018, Bebot was installed in Philadelphia in 2019 at the temporary pop-up park Piazza Pod Park, before being moved 100 m away to The Piazza.

From andreagreenlees.com:

"BEBOT is a cute, friendly, 35 feet tall silver robot that invites Burners to climb into its interior. It is an immensely strong climbing frame made of tubular steel, with squat fat legs that provide a ladder to the inside of the round body and from there up into the head where Burners can sit inside the openings for the eyes, ears and mouth on horizontal circular planes. One arm reaches across the body to the heart signifying that BEBOT has feelings and one arm is raised waving in greeting, inviting Burners to approach. The heart is made of beaten copper. Just like the Tin Man, having a heart matters to BEBOT. Curved antennae emerge from the head, finished with copper spheres at the top. A forked devil's tail curls out unexpectedly from the back of the body, suggesting that all may not be as innocent as it seems."

"BEBOT invites Burners to ‘BE My Eyes’, ‘BE My Ears’, ‘BE My Voice’, ‘BE My Beating Heart’. An endearing comic book robot built on a huge scale but undeniably cute, this installation is intended primarily for play but conceptually it explores aspects of robotics that should concern us. ‘Cuteness’ is already the dominant aesthetic of digital culture and features heavily in the design of robots for use in the home. Cuteness triggers in us a desire to approach and engage with the cute object. Emotional engineering of home robots lowers our barriers to privacy and clouds our perception of risk."

"BEBOT is a participatory art installation. The activities of Burners inside it bring it to life - they become the robot’s eyes, its ears, its voice, its soul, its spirit, its collective heartbeat. BEBOT’s body is open and welcoming. As a climbing frame it cannot be resisted, and it encourages the immediacy and abandon of pure play.  Its various levels provide viewing platforms from which to survey the playa. Burners can face outwards or sit in intimate circles facing inwards. A place to meet and talk, to gather and party and perform, BEBOT encourages shared experience and self-expression."


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