ROBOTLAB (MATTHIAS GOMMEL, MARTINA HAITZ, JAN ZAPPE) – AUTOPORTRAIT
Industrial robot - installation, 2002
A robot is making portraits of humans in a museum. It offers this curious service with pencil in “hand.” It stands behind a drawing table, before which there is a seat for the model.
When a viewer takes their seat, the robot sets to work. The eye of the mechanic artist takes in the face of the visitor, and its deft hand draws a likeness.
The result is unique and unpredictable. Since it has technical skills and the ability to recognize the characteristics of a human face, the robotic hand owns an individual style.
Once the drawing is finished, the robot deletes it with its own hand. Disinterested, the machine retains no memories of the person who sat down before it, and who now must witness the erasure of their own likeness.
In Autoportrait, the relationship of the device and the visitor is analogous with that of the portrait maker and their model, the artist and the client. Though creativity seems to rest with the machine, its imaging capacity is an image of human creativity.