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Here's An Animatronic Dancer Guaranteed To Make Your Spine Tingle

Got a fear of dolls? No? After you see this animatronic dancer, you just might develop one. For some reason, the unnamed robot has been placed in a New York-based art installation, where it gyrates unnaturally to music while staring vehemently into the soul of anyone foolish enough to get near it.

It's more than enough to give most people nightmares. 

The robot uses facial recognition technology to seek out visitors to the gallery, at which point it stares at them with its masked face, following people across the room with its gaze if they try to escape. The robot's skimpy white dress and boots do little to make the machine any less distressing to look at. Its skin is dirty and grubby, its geared shoulders are in plain view, and its green witch mask looks like something ripped straight out of the realm of nightmare. 

The worst part is that, from a distance, the robot almost looks normal. It's only once you get close enough for it to make eye contact that it locks eyes with you and pulls you into a realm of fear from which there is no escape. Lovely, right? 

On the plus side, the designer managed to give it a realistic, remarkably fluid range of motion - even if it is pinned to a mirror in the gallery by a large, metal pole. Naturally, that makes the whole display even more unnerving. The way the robot gyrates and moves about calls to mind an exotic dancer. Near as I can tell, that's exactly the point.

That it dances to distorted versions of a number of popular songs - virtually all of which feature scantily clad women in their music videos - is no accident.  See, on some level, I think I can see what the creator was going for here. The robot's terrible gaze is designed to make people feel uncomfortable for viewing it as a sexual object. Of course, this has the added effect of making it positively nightmarish for anyone who happens to catch its attention. 

Oh, and have I mentioned the grubby little robot has a voice, too? Its creator, Jordan Wolfson, provided his baritone in order to allow the doll to taunt viewers with a lovely selection of phrases like "my mother's dead, my father's dead, I'm gay, I'd like to be a poet, this is my house." So, yeah. It's basically concentrated, high-octane nightmare fuel. I've included a video of the robot's performance along with this article, but don't blame me if you can't sleep after watching it.

According to the 33-year-old artist, the robot isn't meant to be a comment on women. It's simply designed to engage with art gallery visitors one on one. I assume in this case, "engage" means "permanently traumatize."  

The hellish dancer was developed by Wolfson with help from Spectral Motion Effects Studio in Los Angeles. It'll be on display in the Zwirner Art Gallery until April 19, at which point the artist will presumably decide it's terrorized enough patrons, and seal it permanently away in a vault somewhere. That's what I keep telling myself, anyway.