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Uncanny Valley

Dec 18, 2008

    1. There are about 23 threads that reference this perception somewhere in conversation but I haven't really seen any that take the principle head-on.

      It took me a while to realize how much BJD's fall into the Uncanny Valley because I'm a robot geek and generally only think of this societal valley as a product of creating a human-like android.

      For those who don't know what the Uncanny Valley is:

      The Uncanny Valley is a concept that states what the general feeling is toward objects that resemble humans and our relationship to them. Dolls usually fall into the "don't look enough like us to care" category. Corpses are in the Uncanny Valley because they look like humans but there is obviously something wrong (They aren't moving, their skin is grey and they're gaunt. They're deceased and, thus, may hold disease).

      As you get out of the valley at the other side you come to healthy humans again. We are comfortable with that. Robotics and CG are striving to surpass the Valley and some even claim that the Valley doesn't exist because the science of it is so old.

      I think BJDs take dolls into the Valley because they look enough like humans for us to have a certain empathy with them but they're corpselike in the fact that they don't move, they can't stand, they have to be dressed, and they are still all the time. We relate this to illness, sickness, and a thing that is dead but is, at the same time, alive.

      BJD's used to have that effect on me especially when people would hold them at an odd angle that a person would usually not be or when they'd fall over without catching themselves.

      Have you ever experienced the Uncanny Valley with your dolls or someone else's? What are your thoughts on this?

      I know there are a lot of topics out there that deal with the "creepiness" of the dolls so if this is too similar to the other threads don't hesitate to delete it. But I thought it would be an interesting topic to have a specific label on creepiness and deal with the basics of why the creepiness exists head on.
    2. I've never experienced that feeling myself, but I know of people who do. Most of the non-doll-people I know aren't fussed by my dolls, but a few are, and are completely unnerved by them.
      I think it's something residual from human evolution - things that looked like us but were obviously not us - eg mimics, other animals who are similar but aren't the same - were to be driven off or feared because they may infiltrate and eat us or our young. Also the corpse-like thing.
    3. A person I know told me my dolls look like they all had cancer. I couldn't believe she said that! I pressed her as to why, and she said it is their pale skin--so maybe that is off-putting to people. But to me that is part of their beauty. She was creeped out by them and would not even look at them. Eventually I got creeped out by her attitude, so she is out of my life!
    4. This doesn't hold true for me. The dolls simply are not large enough to be perceived by my brain as "human" nor are they babyish enough to be perceived as "human baby." However, I do hold with the thought that abjd fall into the category of "animism" by some -

      It is generally accepted that "animism" refers to the belief that non-human entities, such as animals and plants, as well as inanimate (spiritless) objects such as rocks, can have souls.

      Not so much the "soul" aspect, but a kind of "aliveness" that is transmuted from the human to the object.
    5. I don't think Ces falls into the uncanny valley for me - he's never really frightened me, though I do percieve him as remarkably human like. He almost seems to have emotions sometimes, but rather than scaring me, I actually think it's quite nice to have a little companion.

      On the other hand, I know a lot of people - my dad, for example - who doesn't like him. They call him 'too real' or else say he looks too much like an unmoving child. I admit, I've seen a few dolls on here that would - basically - scare the heck out of me in real life. Mainly they are the dolls with very young faces and matured bodies - I know technically the two shouldn't be mixed in real humans, thus I do not like it in the dolls, though I think that may be a different percecpt.

      I think, in a general manner of speaking, it's all about individual perception. Some may be uncomfortable with the realistic appearances of the dolls, which look almost like humans, but often are flawless. Others may not like the idea of childhood and innocence the dolls can cause in people - and some may simply find them ugly. Just as some people are frightened of realistic robots and some are not, I think opinions of the dolls also vary greatly.

      (On a slightly unrelated note, I am frightened to death of WallE. The human emotions crammed into a robot with such large eyes terrifies me. Yet, ball jointed dolls do not.)
    6. Really interesting topic. I have to say I think it is a big part of the reason that a lot of people are unsettled by dolls. As for me, none of my dolls "creep me out" although strangely one of my least realistic, my Bobobie Aurora, is the most likely to seem to move out of the corner of my eye or in a dim room...
      I almost think it's some of the least realistic dolls that unnerve me... Mostly because of large, round starring eyes and things like that. I mean, Raggedy Ann is the one I dislike the most, and she's only vaugely human shaped, but much of it has to do with an old tv show I saw at a very impressionable age where this woman had one that she talked to, and it walked across the room, and several of the tv crew has bizzare accidents after the filming...
    7. My doll, and most BJD's that I've seen don't fall into the valley for me, and aren't creepy to me either. I've only had mine for a few days, but I'm amazed at how real and lifelike he can seem sometimes - I'll walk in and glance at him and be surprised just a tiny bit that he doesn't look up at me. I intellectually know that he can't move, but the illusion is good enough that I sometimes feel the need to "check on" him and almost expect him to have moved. I totally see how something like that could easily be frightening or creepy.

      It might be the expressions built into their faces - BJD's look like they have different emotions sometimes depending on the lighting, angle, tilt of their heads, etc. Not many dolls do that - people are used to always-smiling Barbies and other dolls who always show the same "emotion" on their faces no matter what. Combine that with the more realistic eyes most bjd's have, and it could be a bit much for people!
    8. I can't say I feel that dolls fall into the valley. For starters, even the tallest don't strike me as realistically proportioned, their exposed joints certainly don't help, and when most owners are into customization and understand the engineering of their dolls, it's hard for them to be deluded enough to believe in uh, tiny little resin people. For strangers? I only think a doll would be in the valley if it were being presented in an extremely artful way.
    9. I feel BJDs are probably in the Uncanny Valley for most people, just because of the way they're presented.

      The perception of the Valley is different for everyone, and I don't find much that falls into it, except unfinished androids/robots that have eyes and make expressions, but no 'skin'. Those kind of creep me out, but at the same time I love that sort of stuff.

      @ nanlady - Do I spy Mother 3 references? ;)
    10. I think some of the Minimees fall into the Uncanny Valley category. They look very realistic, but something's off. Sometimes it's because the eyes are off. No matter how beautiful, they are never real. Sometimes it's the posing, sometimes the body is too small for the head.
      When it's 'just another doll' I can't be bothered by it, but with Minimees and their close resemblance to the person the portray.. it's creepy for me.

      For non-doll people around me, some of my dolls are Uncanny Valley too. I know my cousin is constantly freaked out by my MSD, because he has pupil-less eyes and that isn't 'natural'. But his facial sculpt is very stylized, so it shouldn't have to matter much. Then again, BJD's look real enough (proportion and what not) to be creepy to some people, even if they are stylized.
    11. I did have an "uncanny valley" reaction to dolls on my first few encounters with them, mostly because the joints were off-putting to me. The rest of the doll looked so smooth and human-like, but it had these horrible exposed joints all over the place that disrupted the shape, and they creeped me out. (I almost bought one of the skinned Volks 1/6 dolls as my first step into the hobby, but the lack of heads I liked stopped me.)

      I progressively got more used to the idea of the joints, though, the more I saw the dolls (and as owners started to show me their dolls more closely, instead of just seeing them at a distance from people just walking by). Now they don't bother me at all when I'm playing with mine, and I even like looking at the way the joints are constructed. But it's something I had to overcome, to be able to enjoy them.
    12. Given that I don't think dolls (or robots) are in the least creepy, I just file this whole train of thought under "man some people sure do think weird, because I never would have thought of that at all."

      Frankly, the idea that people would be creeped out by human-looking dolls or robots and even put them in the same category with corpses (which are admittedly creepy because they remind one that one will die someday and look like that, etc.) is more creepy to me than the actual doll or the robot.

      Edited to add, I don't even find the Minimees creepy. They occasionally look silly when badly done up or put on a body that's the wrong size for the head. Silly does not equal creepy, though.
    13. Interesting concept and I can see how certain objects could easily transcend that (Real Doll, anyone?), but it's never worked that way for me. There's always been a subconscious voice telling me, "That's an inanimate object" and I can stay short of relating to it on human terms. There was recently a news article (don't remember where, the Today Show, maybe) about people who collect Reborns. Now, I'm not really familiar with them nor do I know anyone who collects them, but from what I've seen, the dolls seem to inspire a level of realistic interaction that even BJDs don't enjoy. For me, they definitely fall into that category because they look too much like dead babies for my taste.

      As for BJDs, like Zagzagael said, they just aren't lifelike enough for me to suspend disbelief and accept them as "human". They're too small, too stylized, too "doll-like" to cross that boundary into the "Uncanny Valley".
    14. I don't have an "uncanny valley" reaction to BJDs, but there are some dolls that are so real-looking that they make me do a double-take, like reborns and Himstedts.
    15. I had no idea there was a term for this O_O..and it exactly explains what i find fascinating about BJD's..

      I have had moments that I'm unconsciously start talking to a doll..or experience emotions.
      I sometimes feel the BJD absorbs and reflects the emotions I'm feeling at a certain moment which makes the doll seem more alive.
      But then this I can also have with an object that I hold dear. If this makes any sense :P..

      ps: but I don't see them as real people as I know they are dolls but with some artdolls they become more real to me as they give me a slight fright cause they have something corpse-like about them. Like in the Yaso dollbook there is an artist Tadeusz Kantor and his work scares the living h3ll outta me...I would never wanna see any of that artist expositions..I'll probably end up traumatized...+_+...But then a lot of the dollies in the Yaso book frighten me..
    16. I feel the same - most BJDs don't look realistic enough to bother me, but Minimees can be just a bit too realistic. It really depends on the faceup, though. If a doll is blushed and has a faceup that looks too much like real skin, then I'll be a bit weirded out.

      I'm usually pretty oblivious to Uncanny Valley, but it seems to be triggered by Realdolls (and Boytoy dolls, which scare the poop out of me), Fayzah Spanos dolls, Zwergnase dolls. In the case of the latter two, I think it's because their expressions are so animated, I half expect them to come to life and start chasing me. In the case of Realdolls, it's more like... Their expressions are just dead. :horror:
    17. My boyfreind's ( I dont have a BJD) BJD is set is a spot in his room where half the time I feel like hes searing at me , and it actually creeps me out , in the same way as though a human were to stare at me , or an animal . So I think BJDs are deffinatley in the valley so to speak and I think that might actually be one of the reasons that I like them so much.
    18. I came to bjd from the antique doll world, and really, there's nothing here that comes close to the average antique doll when it comes to "Uncanny Valley", imho. Even gothy Vampires, Even Guide's Minimee Guide! XD Bjd are clean, for the most part, and have a modern sensibility. I've never seen a bjd, for example, with real hair eyebrows! So if you're looking for Uncanny Valley, try antique dolls! ^_~

    19. I'm ok with BJD's because they are a small enough scale (even the big ones) that they are just dolls to me, however, reborn infant dolls and Real Dolls are very "uncanny valley" to me, probably because they are human scale dolls. I think that Real Dolls are disgustingly creepy and the reborn infants just creepy. I have lots of antique dolls, but they don't bother me at all because they're small.
    20. i think it happens more for non-doll people because they don;t know what they are.....