10-20 June 2018
Platform Southwark, 1 Joan Street, SE1 8BS
Commissioned and Produced by Illuminate Productions for MERGE festival in partnership with Better Bankside and Tate Modern.
Premiering for MERGE Bankside 2017, Human Study #4 (Details here) was a commissioned robotic art installation inviting visitors to observe a classroom of 20 robot pupils being taught lessons. Each robot displayed human traits affecting their behaviour such as shyness, nerdiness, boredom and some were distracted by the activity of their colleagues or the public in the room.
The theatrical classroom was inspired by Tresset’s own childhood memories and a fictional nostalgia of 1970s French primary schools. Using robots as minimal actors, Tresset revisits his interest in the representation of the human tendencies towards conformity and obsessiveness, while at the same time expressing the passing of time through mark making.
Due to public demand in another room you could take the sitter’s role to be sketched by robots now observing you (as in 6 Robots Named Paul above) in a scene reminiscent of a life drawing class. The three robots (Human Study #1, 3RNP) in this installation sketched your portrait obsessively – the human participant at the mercy of the robot’s scrutiny.
The robot classroom is part of artist Patrick Tresset’s latest exhibition, Machine Studies. Tresset’s robots consist of a camera and a robot arm holding a pen, controlled by a laptop hidden in each robot’s “body” – a traditional school desk. In Human Study #4, the robot class completes a range of activities partly inspired by Tresset’s own schooldays in France.
While the robot students’ actions are synchronised, each is unique in its movements. Tresset has programmed the robots to express different behavioural traits, like nervousness or shyness. Some of the robots appear to take to their task with vigour while others work slower and seem apprehensive. Tresset is interested in how we humanise robots; his work, he says, is more about human nature than technology….