Lizardless Legs (2014)

Lizardless Legs knows nothing about what a lizard looks like and much about how a lizard moves when it is attempting to carve out its tiny patch of territory by doing push-ups.

The robot is reduced in body to just enough to do the push-up gesture but multiplies the signal with a double-stack of legs, potentially creating a supernormal stimulus and thus dominating the local competition.

Lizardless Legs with a Western fence
	       lizard. Animal robot art by Ian Ingram.

When I first started building Lizardless Legs, I imagined it as a kind of mechanical lizard god akin to the giant floating head in Zardoz. I thought the lizards might circle around it and push-up in unison to worship it. But lizards have no deities--not even false ones--and they steer clear of Lizardless Legs after their first encounter with it, perhaps because they understand and are cowed by the potency of its territorial signal. Perhaps, however, simply because it is a novel and disconcerting object invading their space.

Sometimes to assuage the robot's unending thirst for ritualized, bloodless combat (unlike a real lizard, it devotes all its resources to this facet of lizard life), I play the role of the lizard with my hand.