Redrum: Collaborative Human-AI Toy Design

Dongphil Yoo

Redrum explores the possibilities of a Human—AI collaborative effort to create an action figure toy. Machine learning techniques have been used to generate a backstory and inspire the visual design of a series of small, 4-inch, collectible toys.


How do we incentivize creativity with cutting-edge technology? What creates an environment that optimizes creative output? What if AI could be used to fuel creativity? Since we have entered the golden age of AI, it seems worthwhile to focus on determining how to work together with AI, instead of just focusing on whether AI will overtake us. In my project, Redrum, I have explored the potential for working collaboratively on creative projects, human and computer together, building on the strengths of each.

As an indie toymaker, I usually start the concept development process with lengthy background research in order to write a short backstory about each action figure and start to envision the look. However, this process often leads me to feel my creative aptitude is impaired because the cognitive load quickly becomes overwhelmed. As a result, I am less likely to seek out novelty and imagination in the creative process. In order to surmount this, I decided to build a creativity support system incorporating machine learning technology into the early stage of design.

The computer, with its amazing capability to handle repetitive and deterministic activities, can generate endless story passages based on the input of enormous amounts of text data. Since my goal was to create horror action figures, the text I used for input was primarily criminal records, fictional narratives, movie scripts, etc. Together, the computer and I summarized and revised the outputs repeatedly in a tight feedback loop to obtain backstories, many nonsensical, some quite whimsical. Ultimately, I, as the human collaborator, polished the final backstory and used it for the next step — to design and build my action figures.

I hope future collaboration with AI will mentally liberate me to engage in creative pursuits and will amplify my creative potential in ever more productive ways.