Gertie Meets Gertie: from animated film to entertainment robot
Abstract: In 1914, Winsor McCay’s Gertie the dinosaur transformed from a sketched character that was part of McCay’s vaudeville “chalk talk”, to become the star of one of the first character-driven animated films. In 2006, Ugobe robotics “gave birth” to their own dinosaur (with the generic name “Pleo”), but this one is a robot that relies on evolving behaviours and emotions. Using my own Pleo (who I have named Gertie after her predecessor) in this paper I will explore the logic that’s in operation when generating and interacting with these animating technologies. Walt Disney’s creation of audio-animatronics will be considered as a bridge that connects these animation media.
Biographical Statement: Angela Ndalianis is Head of Cinema Studies at Melbourne University. Her research focuses on entertainment culture, media histories and the cross-media collisions of films, computer games, television, comic books and theme parks. Her publications include Neo-Baroque Aesthetics and Contemporary Entertainment (MIT Press 2004) and The Contemporary Comic Book Superhero (editor, Routledge 2008), and numerous essays in journals and anthologies. She is currently completing the book Spectopolis: Theme Park Cultures, which looks at the theme parks and their influences, and is researching a new book about robots in the entertainment industry. She is editor of Refractory: a Journal of Entertainment Media and associate editor of Animation: an Interdisciplinary Journal.