The knowledge we have about worldly situations is generally thought of as imperfect because either we doubt their validity, which renders them uncertain, or because it is difficult to define them clearly, thus they become imprecise. These two types of imperfections are interrelated.
The real world appears at the same time both imprecise and imperfect. It is rare that two such similar elements also possess the exact same characteristics, as even twin brothers are differentiable. The limits of nature are not always very clear; take for example the unobserved metamorphosis from day to night. Even the well-known truths of the universe are at times estimations. As observers, we collect vague information and consequently what we believe are facts about the universe are actually merely approximations.
The concept of fuzzy logic brings us to reason on knowledge that is both uncertain and imprecise. The “theory of possibilities,” introduced in 1978 by L.A Zadeh, constitutes the notion of nature’s uncertain probability in a defined framework. When viewed under a fuzzy logic, the theory of possibilities can formally exploit imprecision and uncertainty.
There exist examples of this phenomenon in various domains such as economy, medicine, expert systems, consulting, classification, databases, imaging, and robotics.
In Nicolas Darrot’s wildly imaginative miniature spectacles featuring mechanical marionettes reminiscent of laboratory transplant experiments, it is rapidly ascertained that their construction is based on a conceptual chain of causalities. In a somewhat amorphous space, these creatures transport a microcosm of circular thoughts, of obsessive circuits and des tranche de vie, of double entendres and inductions, and of other alienating existential modes.
Perched in the middle of her opened cage is a parrot with her skull connected to a disproportionate brain, held by its own meek wings. With a shrill, surly voice and in a rather fragmentary fashion, she explains to her spectators the limpid logic behind her imprisonment. A bit further away, a character without a face tells its history of successes and half-failures by procuration, which seem to represent a fair share of the character’s shortcomings. Simultaneously in an adjacent room, two aspiring producers are engaged in endless discussion about a film; through their dialog it becomes apparent that the film in question will forever remain a confused and unrealized project. In another corner, a tennis coach who strives to direct a tennis ball machine reveals a project’s vanity.
Each in its own way, Darrot’s characters find themselves trapped in the mechanization of their own existence, a disjunction of common causalities that are presented with a fragile imaginary frontier separating the real from the artifact. Just as life does not limit itself solely to the acquisition of skills or to the resolution of diverse problematic, it is therefore extremely difficult to define the concepts of liberty or even the notion of poetry, yet humanity will not indeterminately escape the realm of artificial intelligence. Thus, if we find amusement and humor in Darrot’s characters and the way they debate the idea of fuzzy logic; it is probably because they remind us that there are invisible strings manipulating us as well. At the brink of pure savagery, the exposition might arise primitive notions, yet it does not distract from the raw energy of the automated creatures: if they quell our inquietudes with the clumsiness of their pantomimes, it is because they but provide a self-reflective tool by which to peer deeply into our own human condition.
Translated from the original French by Caitlin Boucher and Myriam Erdely