Reminds me of this game I used to play called Creatures - a sort of life sim with monkey-like animals that you were supposed to nurture, teach, protect. There were a few people, though, who played the game by 'torturing' the 'animals', slapping them constantly, starving them, and drowning them. They had sites detailing their creatures' little misadventures.
This caused a lot of people to get up in arms, complaining about cruelty to animals and whatnot. I mean, these people were -pissed-. It was very strange to me, considering that they were a bunch of electric signals in a machine and had no personal wills. It must have been because they were cute - if they'd looked like starfish, nobody would have cared.
She wants to make people pause and make sense of this little robot traversing washington square park--not something that happens everyday. By doing this, she has a lens into how people would interact with something (not necessarily human) in familiar spaces.
But does it really tell anything about the "relationship to space", or does it instead help us understand the "relationship to anthropomorphized robots". Without rigorously testing the robots in different contexts, it's pretty difficult to see what this says about "spaces" generally.
Also, the writing of this website is excessively jargon-y, and reads like business (or perhaps the worst kind of academic) babble:
> The Tweenbot’s unexpected presence in the city created an unfolding narrative that spoke not simply to the vastness of city space and to the journey of a human-assisted robot, but also to the power of a simple technological object to create a complex network powered by human intelligence and asynchronous interactions. But of more interest to me, was the fact that this ad-hoc crowdsourcing was driven primarily by human empathy for an anthropomorphized object. <
I see a lot of that kind of writing: it's taught quite consistently to fine arts students, where it does actually have a use in persuading funding bodies to give money. If you say to a funding body "We want to look at the relationship between human beings and anthropomorphic robots!" you get nothing, but if you say "We want to look at the relationship between place and space and internal subjectivity through [blah blah blah]" you get money to build cool robots and let them loose on the park.
The only flaw with the plan is that this kind of stuff leaks out of that confine and infects discourse outside of art funding bodies.