HUMAN STUDY #2, LA VANITE

 

 

La Vanité

Albert Kümmel-Schnur

An old school desk with a sheet of paper pinned onto it. An arm holding a black Bic pen. A camera eye attached to a short wooden pole looks at a small table on which objects are placed to form a still life: a human skull, an empty can of beer, a large shining shell and dried poppy pods.
“La Vanité” is a theatrical installation. A nervous sketching robot stripped down to its bare essentials endlessly draws an updated vanitas. The party is over – the beer is drunk, opium enters the blood vessels and manipulates our neurotransmitters, the voluptuous shell is empty, life is gone. The remnants of ecstasy and trance are traces of former intensity. Life is short. Maybe too short. Maybe the party has been nothing but an attempt to forget, to assimilate life and death. So it is either Roy Beatty’s “I want more life, father” or Shakespeare’s “Life’s but a walking shadow”.
The robot here is a little story machine, it is constructed to build stories about humanness. It is not selfcontained, but dependent on our gaze. Having a soulless robot meditating on our mortality raises numerous candid, existential and meaningless questions. It is an allegory of what has been called our posthuman condition: man’s face finally washed out by the ocean, not recognizable anymore as an important figure of knowledge or merely one of its tropes.
As a posthuman entity, the robot, named PaulIX, is not just a secondary agent, a mediating medium helping humans to meditate. It acts as if it is an artist in its own right, producing images that are not preprogrammed. Although the way the robot draws is based on Tresset’s own technique, its style is not a pastiche but rather an autonomous interpretation influenced by the robot’s qualities and faults. Ironically, that is of course a quite human way to reach eternal life: leaving traces for posterity to see.

Human Study #2 is a series of installations inspired by the Vanitas genre. A vanitas is a symbolic work of art showing the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death, often contrasting symbols of wealth and symbols of ephemerality and death. Each installation of the H2 series includes different objects along with the constant: the shell and the skull. 

The first installation of the series was premiered at the “Creative Machines” exhibition at Goldsmiths College, London in 2014. Since, other installations in the series have been exhibited in Gdansk at the Laznia art centre in the solo show “Human Traits” in 2015, For the Ex Nihilo, Nihil Fit exhibition during Art Brussels in 2016,  during the group show “La Robotica” in Trieste in 2016, at the Verbeke foundation for the Animal-Man-Machine exhibition, In 2017 in Astana for the “Artistes et Robots” organised by the french RMN, for the Artistes et Robots exhibition at the Grand Palais (Paris), and at Galerie Antoine in 2019 for the solo show “La petite vanité au robot et à la souris”, in 2019 at the Kirchner Museum in Davos (CH).

 

 

HUMAN STUDY #2, LA VANITE

 

 

La Vanité

Albert Kümmel-Schnur

An old school desk with a sheet of paper pinned onto it. An arm holding a black Bic pen. A camera eye attached to a short wooden pole looks at a small table on which objects are placed to form a still life: a human skull, an empty can of beer, a large shining shell and dried poppy pods.
“La Vanité” is a theatrical installation. A nervous sketching robot stripped down to its bare essentials endlessly draws an updated vanitas. The party is over – the beer is drunk, opium enters the blood vessels and manipulates our neurotransmitters, the voluptuous shell is empty, life is gone. The remnants of ecstasy and trance are traces of former intensity. Life is short. Maybe too short. Maybe the party has been nothing but an attempt to forget, to assimilate life and death. So it is either Roy Beatty’s “I want more life, father” or Shakespeare’s “Life’s but a walking shadow”.
The robot here is a little story machine, it is constructed to build stories about humanness. It is not selfcontained, but dependent on our gaze. Having a soulless robot meditating on our mortality raises numerous candid, existential and meaningless questions. It is an allegory of what has been called our posthuman condition: man’s face finally washed out by the ocean, not recognizable anymore as an important figure of knowledge or merely one of its tropes.
As a posthuman entity, the robot, named PaulIX, is not just a secondary agent, a mediating medium helping humans to meditate. It acts as if it is an artist in its own right, producing images that are not preprogrammed. Although the way the robot draws is based on Tresset’s own technique, its style is not a pastiche but rather an autonomous interpretation influenced by the robot’s qualities and faults. Ironically, that is of course a quite human way to reach eternal life: leaving traces for posterity to see.

Human Study #2 is a series of installations inspired by the Vanitas genre. A vanitas is a symbolic work of art showing the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death, often contrasting symbols of wealth and symbols of ephemerality and death. Each installation of the H2 series includes different objects along with the constant: the shell and the skull. 

The first installation of the series was premiered at the “Creative Machines” exhibition at Goldsmiths College, London in 2014. Since, other installations in the series have been exhibited in Gdansk at the Laznia art centre in the solo show “Human Traits” in 2015, For the Ex Nihilo, Nihil Fit exhibition during Art Brussels in 2016,  during the group show “La Robotica” in Trieste in 2016, at the Verbeke foundation for the Animal-Man-Machine exhibition, In 2017 in Astana for the “Artistes et Robots” organised by the french RMN, for the Artistes et Robots exhibition at the Grand Palais (Paris), and at Galerie Antoine in 2019 for the solo show “La petite vanité au robot et à la souris”, in 2019 at the Kirchner Museum in Davos (CH).

 

 

Vanités Noires (2014-2017)

Human Study #2, La Vanité. These drawings were produced during live performances at a number of exhibitions between 2014 and 2017.

24 x 32 cm, Black cristal bic on Canson Montval watercolour paper.
Most of the drawing are available in the store for purchase

Les Petits Robots (2019)

Human Study #2, La Petite Vanité au robot et à la souris. These drawings were produced during live performances at the Galerie Rue Antoine during the solo show  La Petite Vanité au robot et à la souris. It is the first time that this toy appears amongst the still-life elements. The toy was a present from Sabina Tupan for my birthday in 2015, it came from the wonderful Pomme d’api et pomme de reinette shop in Montpellier.

24 x 32 cm, Sakura pen on Canson Montval watercolour paper.
Most of the drawing are available in the store for purchase

Renards Noirs (2016)

Human Study #2, La Vanité. These drawings were produced during live performances at the Man Machine Animal exhbition  at the Verbeke Foundation in Belgium.

24 x 32 cm, Black cristal bic on Canson Montval watercolour paper.
Most of the drawing are available in the store for purchase

Drawings from La Grande Vanité au Corbeau et au Renard  (2018)

Human Study #2, La Vanité. These drawings were produced during live performances at  the Grand Palais in Paris during the Artistes et Robots exhibition.

24 x 32 cm, Sakura pens on Canson Montval watercolour paper.
Most of the drawing are available in the store for purchase

Vanités Noires (2014-2017)

Human Study #2, La Vanité. These drawings were produced during live performances at a number of exhibitions between 2014 and 2017.

24 x 32 cm, Black cristal bic on Canson Montval watercolour paper.
Most of the drawing are available in the store for purchase

Les Petits Robots (2019)

Human Study #2, La Petite Vanité au robot et à la souris. These drawings were produced during live performances at the Galerie Rue Antoine during the solo show  La Petite Vanité au robot et à la souris. It is the first time that this toy appears amongst the still-life elements. The toy was a present from Sabina Tupan for my birthday in 2015, it came from the wonderful Pomme d’api et pomme de reinette shop in Montpellier.

24 x 32 cm, Sakura pen on Canson Montval watercolour paper.
Most of the drawing are available in the store for purchase

Renards Noirs (2016)

Human Study #2, La Vanité. These drawings were produced during live performances at the Man Machine Animal exhbition  at the Verbeke Foundation in Belgium.

24 x 32 cm, Black cristal bic on Canson Montval watercolour paper.
Most of the drawing are available in the store for purchase

Drawings from La Grande Vanité au Corbeau et au Renard  (2018)

Human Study #2, La Vanité. These drawings were produced during live performances at  the Grand Palais in Paris during the Artistes et Robots exhibition.

24 x 32 cm, Sakura pens on Canson Montval watercolour paper.
Most of the drawing are available in the store for purchase