Thursday Salute to Originals: Mechanics of Hugging

We rely on machines for so many aspects of our lives – from meeting the basic needs of preparing food, to communicating with others, to transporting our bodies through the environment, and more. And even when the machine’s involvement is not seen firsthand (such as the conveyor belt which sorted and packed your food before it reached your fork), the vast majority of our daily routine has been affected or shaped by a manmade robot. This all-consuming landscape of mechanization and technology has left little room for authentic interactions. But there are still a few actions which are completely void of robotic intervention – at least until now that is.



This artist, Petri Eskelinen, takes perhaps the last gesture which has not been automated – a simple hug – and turns it into a machine. Sound ludicrous? The wooden hugging machine is a platform which an individual enters and grasps the handles. Bringing the arms together in a guided hug, the mechanical arms embrace the user in return.



Take a look at the video and share with us what reaction this stirs in you:

Can you imagine this contraption lined up in the row of weight machines at your local gym? Or scattered throughout a bustling city? Would we come to rely on it for affection, similar to our obsession with other technological devices (hello, cell phone)? Or would the absurdity of this machine bring us back to humanization?  We can’t say for sure. But what we can do is salute Eskelinen’s hugging machine for making us contemplate those possibilities, and for making us savor the human bear hugs we’re fortunate enough to receive!

Video credit: Mechanics of Embrace from Petri Eskelinen on Vimeo

Image credits: Petri Eskelinen