The sheer existence of the various characters Jim Henson and his protégés created, both Muppets and Creatures. From highly stylised characters in a children's television show that still stand up today and whose show is still at the forefront of teaching children decency and tolerance, as it has been since its first season, but were never meant to pass as flesh-and-blood beings (no matter what so many children know in their hearts to be true, that despite not being flesh and blood, they are no less alive) to The Muppet Show, aimed at a decidedly older audience but with a surprising number of the same characters as Sesame Street and more in the same style, with that same lack of expectation to be seen as flesh and blood, to big-budget movies with characters that are meant to be seen as something you could see living on other worlds or in other realms like the latter two Star Wars of the Original Trilogy (Yoda was not a Jim Henson project, but many of the people he trained were instrumental in the wise (and slightly crazy) old being's creation), Labyrinth, the first two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films (not technically beings from other planets or realms, but still), and more, to realistic aliens shown in close-ups for long periods of time on a TV budget, as in Farscape, to puppets of actual animals that hold up to scrutiny even by people that know those animals like the Creatures they built for the first Babe movie that stood in for many of the animals when shots required things that were easier to get a puppet to do than an animal (such as move their mouths in time to speech) that in some cases hold up to scrutiny better than any pure-CGI character done with cutting-edge equipment that has to interact with the real world, rather than a stylised world done to match the character models, unless there was a truly ridiculous budget to throw at the problem - with hybrid CGI/actual actor characters only relatively recently reaching Yoda, Hoggle/Ludo/Sir Didymus, or especially Pilot/Rygel levels of believable in both their looks and how they interact with the world around them. -- RecklessPrudence
[AN: If I could pick anyone to make my imagined worlds a reality, Henson is right up there. Practical creatures look infinitely more real than CGI ones.]
It looked grotesque. A construction of mechanisms, teeth, and eyeballs. There was all kinds of seemingly random bits and pieces in there. Plates instead of muscles. It looked like a robot had tried to make a face and forgot all the essential fleshy bits. The display flickered, and the latex 'skin' became overlaid on the underlying structure. After that came the paint and then... the movement.
Viewers could choose from there to watch the mechanisms operate, see how the mechanisms worked in concert with the control systems, or have a go at the systems themselves. Shayde was making a ham hand at it, but learning quickly how to manipulate the exhibit on an intuitive level.
Rael was vaguely disturbed to know the operational mechanics behind the masks, and simultaneously fascinated by the mechanical aspects. Seeing them all operating... he had to wonder if the AI Alliance was offended. Some of them used very similar mechanisms for their faces. This sort of thing would be like the Real Anatomy Exhibit, where guests could watch simulated muscle and bone operating several kinds of anatomy.
There were plenty of exhibits of the like. Educational, morbidly fascinating, and mostly gross. They had warnings prior to entry. Visitors could be disturbed by the displays, all exhibits are simulated, fabricated, and not taken from cogniscent beings et cetera, et cetera. There were always a few who believed they could handle the sights on display and free offensensitivity goggles for those who couldn't.
Rael could handle this. These weren't actual, artificial beings. They were incredibly advanced simulations for their time, and stood the test of time. His own history didn't even touch this. He knew it intellectually.
He could easily predict nightmares of being manipulated like an animatronic creature by B'Dauss scientists while they were laughing about it. Being an artificial life form did certain things to the psyche.
He defended against future nightmares by delving into the historical side of things. The evolution of the mechanics and how they were used by some AI's because of their similarity to organic systems and their capability for verisimilitude. How there was very little in the way of evolution between the twentieth-century creative genius and the modern mechanisms.
Then, at Shayde's insistence, he had a go at the animatronic controls. That was peculiar. Learning for himself how difficult the process was managed to turn nightmares into farce. His back-handed creators would never be able to manage the finesse necessary to do anything in relation to reality.
She had so many strange ways of solving problems she couldn't know he was busy having. Sometimes, he had to wonder if Humans were as telepathic as others thought they were.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / kaetana]
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