Beware the Cat

Owen Roberts

Beware the Cat imagines a world where cats have been replaced by robotic pets. Robotic cat puppets were developed to perform as characters in a series of stories that explore the past, present and future of the relationship between humans and cats.

The mythology of cats is as old as narrative and language itself. Cats have been worshipped as gods, feared as manifestations of the devil, tortured in ritualistic celebration and, of course, made a centerpiece of an emerging media world on the Internet. In my version of Beware the Cat, the electronic cat is abstracted further as a robotic puppet, a physical object that represents an electronic version of the original reference. Through a series of stories, the characters are used to explore how the current obsession with cats is related to our historical relationship with cats and representations of cats in media, as well as the mythology of the animal/machine/human hybrid.

Many of my projects at ITP have been related to robotics, sound and narrative. I have researched methods for using robotics as well as wireless and sound technology using Arduino, radio transmission and other circuits. I have also seen and read about performances and installations that use robotics and robot characters and the history of narrative and media and I'm researching the cat/animal culture on the Internet and in other media.