Reflection Loop | 2001


Reflection Loop (2001) examines the strange identity and cultural impact of artificially intelligent toys in American culture. In various works, Heaton dissects the popular children's toy known as The Furby™ and uses its parts to engender new forms. Subjected to 'mind' control, sensory manipulation and plastic surgery, The Furby is made to assume various new identities: molecule, pixel and specimen. This process of creation through reverse engineering questions the identity of Furby's maker and challenges our ethics with respect to computer intelligence.

The major work of Reflection Loop is The Pool (2001), a large wall containing four hundred Furby™ toys that have been modified to behave as reactive pixels. The sculpture's mirror-like surface is modeled after the molecular structure of water, referencing the reflecting pool in which Narcissus drowned. Other notable works include Where Am I? (2001), in which a Furby toy has been modified to spatially distance its computer chip from its robotic body. The Anatomy of the Furby (2000) illustrates the toy in the detailed style of an 18th century biologist. Public Event Reflection Loop(2001), an early example of programming language as poetry, describes the logic by which these animatronic toys have been forced to serve an artistic purpose.

Reflection Loop is the first of three installations comprising Bibiota, funded by Creative Capital, Council for the Arts at MIT, MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies and several private donors.