the native picture

"the native picture" by robotlab. You can see an orange robot arm drawing a black and white picture of an arid landscape.
the native picture
Medium / Material / Technic
Industrial robot, computer, easel, paper, ballpoint pen, customized software

The title »the native picture« contains a profound reference to the relationship between nature and humanity: In the twenty-first century, who can still generate an image showing nature untouched by humans? For now, the solar system’s fourth planet can still be considered fairly untouched, but the wheel ruts and boreholes left behind by NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity are beginning to leave the first traces of culture. Where the soulful hands of skilled painters are doomed to fail, an industrial robot can prevail: The image file recorded by the Mars Rover and transmitted to the robot is algorithmically transformed, so that each of the 144 drawings forming the panoramic image only consists of a single line. Over the duration of the exhibition, a composite image showing the surface of Mars will be generated, ultimately covering a monumental area of 30 × 7 meters.

Programmed to copy a photograph, the robot effortlessly works away without any intention of interpretation, appearing inhumanly patient. Its perfectly even lines concentrate to form points and structures – an inherently objective mode of image reproduction which generates a certain tension when viewed, which is the result of a newly formed connection: The sublime nature of the motif and the mechanical aesthetic on the one hand, the micrological grace of its movement and line work on the other. The robot lends a modern interpretation to Heinrich von Kleist’s On the Marionette Theater (1810) and the idea “that there was more grace to be found in a mechanical manikin than in the form of the human body.”

Produced in cooperation with the ZKM | Karlsruhe.