Just when you think art is human’s privilege, think again. Meet Human Study #1, 5RN, Brussels-based, French artist Patrick Tresset’s latest media art installation which is made up of five robot arms that can simultaneously and instantly sketch a portrait in 20 minutes. After exhibitions in renowned galleries such as London's Tate Modern and the V&A, along with the Mori Museum in Tokyo, Tresset comes to Hong Kong with his robot installation for the first time in Art Unchained, an exhibition presented by Taikoo Place’s ArtisTree. This Hong Kong show is curated by art and tech specialists Joanne Ooi, Lisa Botos and Jean-Luc Gustave.
Ooi, a former art gallerist and creative director of Shanghai Tang, suggests that Hong Kong isn’t too familiar with media art. The city’s art scene is mostly dominated by fine art, including painting, sculpture and other traditional art forms. Yet media art is on the rise. It encompasses a wide range of art forms that make use of technologies such as 3D printing, virtual reality, computer graphics, animation and robotics––the last of which is the case for Tresset’s installation. “Tresset is a seminal exponent of media art. The exhibition of Human Study #1, 5RNP will introduce this giant yet little-known category of art to the local art industry and the general public, opening their eyes to the creative possibilities unleashed by technology,” Ooi says.
Tresset is a painter himself, specialising in human traits and experience. “The technology places me at another level where I’m not drawing directly, but instead dictating the robots’ movement to produce spontaneous drawings,” he says. “It’s a play between losing control and having more control at the same time.”
Yet Tresset reassures that the dystopian sci-fi scenario is far from being a reality, that we won’t be replaced by robots anytime soon. “What’s important in art is the intention, which machines don’t have, nor do they have emotions or characters––we as observers humanise robots based on their behaviours,” he says.