'Automated Forest' in group exhibition 'Tomorrow Now - When Design meets Science Fiction
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Tomorrow Now was the third exhibition held in the brand new MUDAM, Musée d’Art Moderne du Grand Duc Jean, Luxemburg. The installation Automated Forest was purchased by the MUDAM in 2004. An initial version was installed in 2001 in Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff. Automated Forest examined the kinds of automated form and behaviour which can elicit the projection of animal properties by an audience. The installation pursued a recurrent theme in my work of creating a tension between elements which are strongly mimetic and others which firmly belong to the realm of automata. The value of this tension is that it makes the recognition of automata as automata even stronger, in contrast to the likeness between image and object in examples of mimesis. The walls of the installation were covered with photorealistic wallpaper of a forest. Hanging from the ceiling were crude little machines called Robotic Birds, chirping like real birds but also flashing, swirling, and clearly cybernetic. An example of the success of the mimetic qualities of the work was that, in an earlier (2001) version, families came to the installation and held picnics there. However, comments from audience members at an artist’s talk in 2001 made clear that the robotic nature of the birds frequently generated a feeling of discomfort. The outcome of the work is its suggestion that audiences are more comfortable with imitation by image, and less comfortable with imitation that has been clearly achieved through recent electronic technology. As such, technological imitation was shown to be an aesthetic form which could evoke a sense of unease when coupled with a visual background which imitates nature. This current version of the installation has improved upon the technical aspects and reliability of the Robotic Birds necessary for sustaining the tension between mimesis and machine.
Mudam (Musee d'Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean) Luxemburg, pp.1
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