Earlier this week, we brought you the news that the man who played Jason in the original Friday the 13th now part-owns a Texas Chain Saw Massacre hotel. Today’s chilling tale of the macabre concerns a Hong Kong-based genius who has hunkered away to create a fully functional, life-sized robot of Scarlett Johansson.
It’s clearly amazing that 42-year-old Ricky Ma, with no formal training in robots, has managed to – if you will – pull this off. Yet that unfortunate phrasing hints at the faintly unsettling subtext here. What – and we’re sure you’re wondering this too – what exactly are you meant to… do… with this thing?
The robot is called Mark 1 and is not technically meant to be Scarlett Johansson. It’s just a woman who looks disturbingly similar to Scarlett Johansson, widely considered to be one of the most conventionally attractive actresses in the world. So that is certainly a coincidence. Mark 1’s skeleton was made using a 3D-printer, as was 70% of her body. Mark 1 has silicone skin. Silky, silicone skin. According to the International Business Times, this silky silicone skin “wraps around and hides the electronic interior of the robots to give her a human-like appearance”.
Ma spent $50,000 ($35,000) and 18 months on his balcony, breathing like into Mark 1. We don’t know if a thunderbolt cracked overhead as he puffed and panted, furrowing his brown in frustration as he patiently stretched Mark 1’s flesh over her cold, robotic hands, cackling into the blackened night as she finally, thankfully flexed her animatronic fingers. And yet it seems somehow possible.
The robot is equipped with facial motors that imitate muscles, meaning she can – sort of – interact with you. As Wired reports: “When you tell her she’s beautiful, the corners of her mouth raise in a slight smile and her eyebrows relax as if she’s embarrassed to accept the compliment.” Yet Mark 1’s repertoire is limited, as she’s pre-programmed to respond only to a specific and simple sentences, such as “you are so cute” and, weirdly, “body relax”.
Oh, Mark 1, with your weirdly massive hands and your incredibly long arms. We look at you, in your lovely grey skirt, and all we can see is Ricky Ma ambling through H&M to buy clothes for the robot woman he has made on his balcony, smiling to himself with quiet satisfaction.