HUMAN STUDY #1, 5RNP
Human Study #1, 5RNP is an installation where the human becomes an actor. In a scene reminiscent of a life drawing class, the human takes the sitter’s role to be sketched by 5 robots. When the subject arrives by appointment, he is seated in an armchair. An assistant attaches sheets of paper on to the robots’ desks and wakes each one up, twisting its arm or knocking three times.
The robots, stylised minimal artists, are only capable of drawing obsessively. Their bodies are old school desks on which the drawing paper is pinned. Their left arms, bolted on the table, holding black Bic biros, are only able to draw. The robots, named PaulIII.( a,b,c,d,e), all look alike except for their eyes, either obsolete digital cameras, or lowres webcam. Their eyes focus on the subject or look at the drawing in progress. The drawing sessions last up to 40 min, during which time the human cannot see the drawings in progress. The sitter only sees the robots alternating between observing and drawing, sometimes pausing. The sounds produced by each robot’s motors create an improvised soundtrack. The sitter is in an ambivalent position, at the mercy of the robots’ scrutiny, but also as an object of artistic attention. As the model in a life drawing class, the human is without personality, an object of study. The human sitter is passive, the robots taking what is perceived as the artistic role. Although immobile, the model is active in keeping the pose, for the spectators the sitter is an integral part of the installation.
The RNP was originally developed by Tresset to palliate a debilitating painter’s block. It could be seen as a creative prosthetic or a behavioral selfportrait. Even if the way Paul draws is based on Tresset’s technique, its style is not a pastiche of Tresset’s, but rather an interpretation influenced by the robot’s characteristics. The drawings progressively cover the gallery’s walls, day after day.
5RNP was premiered at the Merge festival in association with Tate Modern in London in 2012, it has since been exhibited at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Arts (Seoul) at Ars Electronica 2014 (Linz), BOZAR (Brussels), Variation (Paris), BIAN (Montreal), Update_5 (Ghent) where it was awarded the Prix du Public and 3rd Prix du Jury.