LO: My inspiration

I recently came upon an exhibition piece called “Can’t Help Myself” (2016) by artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. It is a robotic arm that mimics animated movements while constantly wiping a blood-like liquid within an area around it. The artists worked with robotic engineers to program the specific movements and repurpose the robotic arm, creating code for 32 movements that the robot will perform. The more the robot wipes the liquid, the more messy the room becomes, creating a sense of helplessness. What I admire about the project is how movements can be coded into the robot to give it lifelike characteristics. Although the robot is a machine with no emotions, we as humans are able to place emotions onto it just by observing its movements. I’m curious about human interaction with robotics and computers, especially how we create emotional connections with them, which is why this artwork caught my attention. This artwork sprouted from the artists’ wish to explore how machines can be used to replace an artist’s place in performative work, broadening the boundaries of performance art. “Can’t Help Myself” was also Guggenheim’s first robotic artwork, and presented new possibilities for combining technology with exhibition art.

“Can’t Help Myself”: a robotic arm moving constantly to clean up the liquid around it

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