The Machine Zone, 2019
This work is inspired by the historic behavioural experiments of American psychologist B.F. Skinner (1904-1990) which explored the idea of random reward. Skinner’s work has been widely referenced in relation to the algorithms which drive interactions on social media, tapping into a subconscious primal side of the brain which is involved in motivated behaviours, thus exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology. Skinner’s ‘operant conditioning chamber’ demonstrated that random reward created a kind of constant uncertainty that then encouraged a behavioural loop.
Skinner’s ghost has persisted into the modern day, a quiet spectre among our statuses, likes, comments, and shares. Collishaw worked with a special effects designer to create these animatronic bird models which exhibit random repetitive actions.