Sometimes the role of art is to educate; at others, it's to engender political and social change (or at least awareness). Sometimes, it's largely about being really blummin' cute, and we're wholeheartedly behind that.
Such is the case with an ongoing project by artist Ben Elliot, titled My Little Friend. This "friend" is described as "agender, non-animal, nor human", and takes the form of a pudgy, shiny white little critter with huge doe eyes and a form that's somewhere between Stay Puft, a tubby lamb and a cutesy robot. Silvia Casali worked on the character design for the project.
The idea behind My Little Friend is as much conceptual as it is adorable and aesthetically pleasing: "The project explores the culture of digital pets and fictional characters such as Hello Kitty, Milk & Mocha, Tuzki, or Gudetama, that has been especially popular since the mid-2010s," Elliot explains. "My Little Friend aims at connecting this trend to art, tech, AI and smart entertainment."
It exists as a virtual character with a personality that "epitomises the cute and innovative aspects of the millennial generation" and more broadly, which chimes with a "creative and forward-thinking audience," the artist adds. My Little Friend was conceived to be for life, not just for Christmas, as it were. Elliot plans to explore the character in multiple formats and contexts, initially establishing it as a brand and as such, promoting it through licensing deals and merch ranges such as limited editions of apparel, homeware and toys.
My Little Friend's first outings are as an Instagram face filter and an online exhibition that uses augmented reality to highlight the cute, minimal and technical features of the character through an "immersive experience" online.