the Walk In Shelter

Pei-fong Kuo

An interactive documentary film project and a robotic video sculpture on sex trafficking and domestic violence in New York.

“Regarding the pain of others” features stories of 3 sex trafficking survivors in New York State. Symbolically, it represents a miniature shelter.
Physically, this shelter is a robotic video sculpture driven by motors and spur gears, and incorporating motion sensors, a video projection and four speakers. While the video plays in a constant loop, the shelter walks to find its viewer, stopping when its motion sensors detect the presence of the viewers in front of the video screen. We continue to see the devastating effect of sex trafficking that links with domestic violence, the robotic video sculpture has possibly a more conceptual idea about a survivors' shelter as a transformer coming to meet people and making a step forward, with one intention to educate before victimization of women and girls.

“ We continue to see the devastating effects of sex trafficking, where services for survivors are as rare as programs that address the demand for their victimization. And if they are found, women are repatriated as a matter of first instance, or are locked in”shelters” that look more like prisons than the safe haven that a survivor needs.” ---- Ambassador Luis Cdebaca at TIP report 2010

When an adult is coerced, forced, or deceived into prostitution – or maintained in prostitution through coercion – that person is a victim of trafficking. Hundreds of thousands of individuals are trafficked across international borders each year, and many of them women and girls trafficked for the commercial sex trade. Traffickers often use sexual violence as a weapon against women, to keep them in compelled service, whether in a field, a factory, a brothel, a home., or a war zone. According to UNICEF, as many as two million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade. Despite New York State’s landmark legislation, 2007 Anti-trafficking Bill and 2008 Safe Harbor Act, and a growing public awareness, there are few arrests and prosecutions of traffickers or “Johns”, and disturbingly frequent arrests of victims as prostitutes. Trafficking victims are often being detained in a trafficking “shelter” or jailed for violations that occurred as a direct result of being trafficked. Victims are often frightened to come forward for help, with the likelihood that they will be arrested, little hope that their traffickers will be brought to justice, and scant expectation of receiving the comprehensive service they need to break free. Lack of housing once they leave the traffickers’ control is chief among myriad reasons many do not seek help – only a small handful of shelter beds are available for trafficking victims.

girls between 13-17 years old, woman, general public

User Scenario
1. robotic video sculpture: While the video plays in a constant loop, the shelter walks to find its viewer, stopping and turn on the sound volume when its motion sensor detects the presence of the viewers in front of the video screen.

Construction plans:

The housing structure that contains a video screen and a speaker. I am planning to build with balloon framing structure out of MDF or corrugated cardboards.

There will be 3 stories, each 6-8 minutes, of the victims of sex trafficking and violence that we interviewed. The story was told by the victims in first person.

The video will be played constantly on a screen with an ipod and VGA converter.

This was the original circuit that we developed for our prototype. We need a motion sensor for the robot to see our viwer and start and stop the robot.

There are eight legs driving by two motors and spurs gear as the base of the housing structure for the video. The mechanism and the circuit is separated from the video part.

We like to consider a majority part of this project a future model for a community base complaints and reporting system. Where the application is set up for sex trafficking and domestic violence victims to leave voice messages when they cannot seek for immediate help or don’t know where to turn to. And there will be volunteers routinely listen and keep track of the voice messages and report them to communities and organizations.