Although Petit Mal is, to the average viewer, a charming and beguiling machine, the project is, at a deeper level, a critique of what I understand to be attitudes and methods basic to the discipline of engineering. I would like to outline some of those aspects of the project as a way into discussing my general critique, a critique which has emerged in the process of realization of the work.
The heart of the mechanical structure of the robot is a double pendulum, an inherently unpredictable mechanism. Emblematically, this mechanism stands for the generative principal that the machine, as a whole, is unpredictable, and a little 'out of control'. This is the logic behind the choice of name for the robot. In neurological terminology Petit Mal is an epileptic condition, a short lapse of consciousness. The humour of this notion originates in the way in which it is contrary to the conventional idea of 'control' in robotics. This is not a unique position by any means, it places it in the grouping of 'reactive' robots as opposed to 'goal based' robots.