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_hand(s) of the artist

When considering the place of robotics in the creative process: what are the machine-human boundaries in interpretation, implementation and creative authorship?

Artist-scientist Patrick Tresset is exploring a relationship with the artificial creativity that we may find in the drawing of his robotic hands. Indeed the eye-hand coordination and repetitive tasks of the portrait artist are to a large extent not unlike a mechanical process, therefore we can easily be seduced by the creative gestures of a machine output. Seemingly random gestures can in our imagination easily be interpreted as poetic expressions that combine into a distinctive artistic style. We may see an artist in the machine, and see human likeness in the portraits it produces, even if the interpretation process is inherently inhuman and only capturing the mere physical aspects of the subject—its forms, whether organic or not.

Beyond the questions of representation that are here interestingly raised, Tresset’s robotic arms are fascinating performative sculptures. Can we trust and prefer the hand of the machine more than that of the artist? Probably, even if the hand of the machine is after all “drawn” by the artist.

This project also questions the relationship between the model and the artist.

When you pose for an artist you enter a relationship of relative empathy. You sit in front of another human not unlike you and may wonder or second guess their impressions, challenges, possible thought process, hesitations and/or judgements on you as model.

When posing for a machine, you are caught in some sort of analytical, algorithmic or other mysterious interpretation process. Tresset’s machine takes its time, hence giving you plenty of it to wait, think and wonder. You sit in front of a disconnected robotic eye and hand, in an emotive void punctuated with moments of curiosity, amusement or perhaps dismay. You are observing and considering the situation far more intensely than if the artist was human. You have entered a performance whose creator is probably absent from your thoughts. Why? Because we have a challenging relationship with machines that is still to be resolved. We are helplessly witnessing the incoming invasion of robots in our life—as it is out of the artist’s control. Surely, that concern raises the question of our relationship with a generation of machines that we suspect will know to look at us in the eye, as well as to draw us.

Paul II, Etudes Humaines can be seen in La Panacée’s Anatomie de l’Automate exhibit

Sat, November 21 2015 » creative, technology