In Sun Yuan and Peng Yu’s “Can’t Help Myself,” which was an installation at the Guggenheim, a robotic arm restlessly tries to clean up red liquid on the floor, to no avail. The robot knows 32 different movements. It is trapped within a transparent “cage,” where the viscous liquid continuously triggers the robot’s sensors to shovel and scrape. The resulting, never-ending, blood-like splatters evoke violence at border zones and the consequences of authoritarianism; as the Guggenheim states. The real meaning is up to interpretation.
I really admire the uniqueness of this piece. Typically, when someone creates an AI, it is for a specific purpose; to have self-driving cars, to mimic human capabilities, to push the limits of what AI can do. I appreciate that “Can’t Help Myself” is purely an artistic work. With so many different movements as it frantically scrapes, it almost looks like a panicked choreography.