Toby Atticus Fraley is known for tweaking, from time to time, his storefront art installation in Pittsburgh International Airport’s Concourse A, “Fraley’s Robot Repair.” And as travelers faced flying during the COVID-19 crisis this week, Fraley just wanted to help with what he believed most people thought was a helpless situation.
And so the robot that occupies his retro sci-fi inspired installation had a simple but very impactful message for all mankind during these trying times. Sitting in his desk chair, beside his old typewriter, the robot now holds a sign simply reading: “Dear Humans, you CAN do this – Robot.”
“I wanted to give it hope, not confrontation,” said Fraley, who four years ago brought his installation to the airport, relocated from a Downtown Pittsburgh storefront. In that short period of time, it has become a customer favorite in the airport.
“I didn’t want to cause any further grief,” Fraley said. “I had to be careful because it could rub people the wrong way.”
In the end, Fraley worked some sci-fi magic himself by humanizing an inanimate object.
“I think it puts a personality on it,” he said. “We are always projecting our emotions on to the robot—it’s good to have them project back.”