Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Harajuku & The Uncanny Valley

Aren't these just the best shoes that have ever been conceived of?? I was pretty sure that Japanese shoes didn't fit me - last time I was here, even their Extra-Large was just a smidgeon too small - however this time I seem to be getting really lucky - all the X-Large sizes fit my giant western feet!
These tights (sent to me by My Tights) go so perfectly with the shoes as well, because the stripes match up and make my legs look super cool from behind, haha. They're also perfect for Valentines day and I'll be wearing them again come February 14th - they're cheesy, but kind of perfect.
In these photos I'm posing in a side-street just off the main shopping street (Takeshita dori) in Harajuku. I decided purple hair was appropriate for a Sunday afternoon in this suburb, and I was glad I got all dressed up because "dressing-up" over-the-top in Harajuku is the norm. It has not been cold here AT ALL, more like autumn weather in fact, and I haven't even needed my coat in the daytime.

dress - c/o Sheinside
boots - from a store in Koenji
tights - c/o My Tights
cardigan - Forever 21

Continuing with my Japanese-themed science posts, today I'm going to talk about the "Uncanny Valley" phenomenon. Uncanny Valley was proposed by a Japanese robotics professor named Masahiro Mori in the 1970s, but has become more relevant today now that we have started to create life-like animations and robots that look like humans.

The Uncanny Valley
Humans react most positively to the sight of other humans. When we see animations and robots that have human characteristics, our reaction towards them is more and more postive the closer to humans they become - until a point.
When the robots/CGI start to look almost identical to humans but just not quite, our reaction to them is quite severe. They make us shudder. They make us cringe. We don't like them one bit. For example, this is a robot called CreepyGirl.
You kind of just want to punch that robot in the face, don't you?
But a robot like this, that doesn't try to look too realistic, we find likeable and even cute.
This video explains the uncanny phenomenon really well and I recommend you watch it! It explains why even though CGI has become really quite advanced, all the animated films that we see still feature very cartoon-like characters.

Hope you're all having a lovely Tuesday!


  1. You look lovely as ever little purple hair darling! Congrats for your new shoes and tights! That is a very provocative thought on why realistic -humanoid robots kinda give us the creeps, I'll have to check out that video for sure, you sure share some interesting thought provocative things! Thank you for sharing. I shall also check out "My Tights"
    Have a great week and may you have some more excellent discoveries this week!

    Peace and love
    -Ginela Gonzalez


  2. your purple hair is amazing!! :)) your boots is to die-for!! and your tights and dress is fabulous! just OMG!! :D I really love your blog ;D


  3. YOUR SHOES. I want them!!

    Francesca xo

  4. yep those shoes sure are awesome. With every post, I more and more want to hop on a plane over to japan. :D

  5. Those shoes... those tights.. that trip to japan!
    So jealous right now! :D Oh and also I love Daniel Floyd!
    I took a class in gaming theory last year and it was
    really insightful-- like you can really get in depth with
    video games and also it's very applicable to human behavior
    since good games have to teach a player how to play the game
    (mega man does a good job of this) in a systematic way(and well you know we use our brain to play video games because they're so interactive which gives room for a lot for neurological discussion). There's actually a lot of science in it!

    Also I'm not sure if you play many video games but the
    new bioshock game will feature this mob character called 'Motorized Patriot' which basically looks like this: http://nerdreactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/George-Washington-Heavy-Hitter-BioShock-Infinite.jpg

    The artists who created the concept described it as being like a porcelain child doll-- in the same style on how they used to craft dolls where they would be very similar to humans but 'not quite there'. It's pretty creepy haha. oh and on a relevant note the "CreepGirl" is genuinely making me feel scarred it doesn't help that it's 3AM. o_o

    1. That's awesome! I would so love to do a class on game theory, it sounds super interesting! I'm also really interested in how we project ourselves onto the characters in games. My brother suffered from phantom pain when he was younger and playing video games, especially those like wii where you use the feet board and a remote which you wave, controlling the limbs of the avatar on screen, actually got rid of his phantom pain while he was playing them. So I'm really really interested in them from that perspective as well.
      That character is pretty terrifying! they sound like they're trying to use the uncanny valley to their advantage! I actually don't like scary games where things creep up on you, and you have to do a lot of hiding and shooting - I get way too involved, and then freaked out haha. I'm more a mario kart kind of girl myself, haha.

  6. I am always fascinated by the 'uncanny'. It is something we studied in English lit and looking at Freud. The familiar, but strange which creates a feeling of attraction and repulsion. I love all those weird things. We looked at books with doppelgangers and I recently read this beautifully creepy story about a guy who hears a voice who copies everything he says through the wall of a hotel but says it slightly differently, just altering odd sounds so that everything he says is sinister. Hard to explain but it's kind of like the robot girl. She says trying to link it all together again!

    1. Your description of that story actually made me shudder, wow. What is it called if you remember the name of it?
      You sparked a good discussion between me and my boyfriend about the uncanny in the horror genre actually. I didn't know about it, and he told me all he knew about it. Reaaaaally interesting. So many of my childhood nightmares actually involved dopplegangers - it's such a strong human fear.
      Nice job linking it all together though ;) Haha but it is a lot like that!

  7. do Japanese have such big feet? wow.
    these shoes are awesome, yes. + you look wonderful with all these colours <3

  8. I just want to say one thing, I'm in love with your shoes. I really, really need to go in Japan!


  9. a) jealousjealousjealoussorry
    b) That's so strange, but it makes sense :P

  10. Those tights are so cool! My cousin and I love saying things to each other in French, so maybe I'll have to look into those for her. :)


  11. This outfit is adorbs!


  12. You look great, I'm definitely jealous of your tights (and Japan duh).
    As an illustration major, we talk about the uncanny valley. No one's gonna buy your art if it's creepy!


    1. Ahh that's really interesting. I hadn't thought about it being taught as a part of art and illustration as well, but actually, it makes a lot of sense that it is!

  13. That robot IS terrifying. Why is it making that face?!? When I was in Japan, I could only fit into most of the "LL" size shoes. Actually, going to Japan is what got me addicted to high-heeled wedges (I bought three pairs there!)

  14. The boots are absolutely adorable! Good thing too because that robot is absolutely disturbing.


  15. Wow, this piece of science had me absolutely fascinated! Not quite related, but kind of, I stumbled upon this photoshoot recently where a guy spent 12 years trying to find people who had the same features but were in no way related - so actual doppelgangers, to do a shoot with. Here are the results and when I saw it, I couldn't help but wonder how he broke the news to the people that they were about to come face to face with themselves. Surely, that would have me hysterical! I thought you might find it interesting on a scientific level, as well, that these people have such similar features with no familial relation to each other. http://slideshow.nbcnews.com/slideshow/today/strangers-who-look-like-twins-im-not-a-look-alike-50590127/

    1. Whaaaaaat! Oh wow! Thank you so much for sharing that with me, what an incredible art idea!
      So many of the people look like brothers or sisters, but there's a few who I am just convinced are actually the same person. I guess with billions of people you would have to find very similar dopplegangers among them eventually! I'm wondering how many people are out there who look similar to me, now. Creepy but cool thought. That would be an interesting thing to try out, seeing as my face is "out there" online anyway.. hmmmm...
      I'm so glad that this science post interested you so much:)

  16. I love this post not only is the outfit great but I feel like a learn something everytime I read this blog. The idea that we don't except robots that look to real is so true, it's just scaryStyle With Friends

  17. Love Wall-E... that other robot is creepy.



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