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The big picture at NTMoFA (Review) Appreciation
Exhibition Banner - The big picture at NTMoFA
Exhibition Dates: 2019/01/19 ~ 2019/05/12
Place: 109 Gallery
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 Date:2019.1.19 (Sat) ~ 5.12 (Sun)

Opening Ceremony: 2019.1.19 (Sat) 14:00-15:00

Venue: Gallery 109, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts


Forum of “Robotics and Arts Creation in the Age of AI”: 2019.1.19 (Sat) 15:00-17:00

Venue: Auditorium, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts



About the Exhibition

This exhibition features the big picture, a large-scale installation of mechanical drawing developed by German artist group “robotlab” in 2014. This captivating installation is designed to create drawings with an industrial robot which blazed a new trail in the field of precision machinery. The robot’s motion is controlled by technically complex algorithms, so that the hardware’s operation can be adjusted and its precision ensured. Using computer programs, the creative team reprocessed the images sent home by NASA’s Curiosity Rover from Mars, ingeniously transfiguring the landscapes of this mysterious red planet into an unbroken line. Dictated by a computerized system which is nothing if not sophisticated, hundreds of kilometers of an abstract line dances to the robot’s tune, gradually converging towards a huge, inimitable and photorealistic drawing.

The version displayed at NTMoFA this time allows the visitors to see the robot drawing the Martian landscape from scratch on an entirely blank sheet, and the drawing is scheduled to be completed after a four-month incessant operation. Aligned with the line of sight of human beings, the robot sets out on an epic journey of drawing in a way beyond human physical limits, thereby prompting the visitors to cogitate on the issue as to whether the subject-object relationship between humanity and machinery forged by the technological advances since the Second Industrial Revolution is possible to change if we let technological development take its course. Ultimately, an enchanting utopian world in which humanity and machinery co-exist in a symbiotic relationship will incrementally manifest itself in the innumerable layers of abstract line on this huge canvas.


About the Artwork


In a months-long, 24/7 process the robot draws a Martian landscape with one single continuous line. By this inimitable technique it creates a unique artwork with a high level of detail and precision. Hundreds of kilometers of an abstract line converge towards a photorealistic image. The central element of the big picture is therefore a creative process that goes beyond the limits of human possibilities.


Art in a traditional sense focuses on the perception of the world, of nature, of the human body or even of art itself as viewed from the perspective of the human eye. The robot refers to this mode of art, it virtually takes up the position of a landscape painter, but here the subject of the image has never been seen by a human eye but only perceived by means of technology. By hypothetically referring to any form of digital data, for example originating from sensors, measuring probes or electromagnetic devices, the robot’s perceptivity goes beyond the visual world into a data world that is most commonly translated and visualized, e.g. as false color image, for humans to become perceivable.


The original image of the drawing derives from the Mast Camera instrument on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover during the mission's 952nd and 953rd Martian days (or sols) on April 10 and 11, 2015.


The machine takes the imagery data and transforms it through algorithmic operations into a single path with a length of 400 kilometers, thus defining up to 900 million movements. Travelling over the 6 x 2 meters canvas, the thin line constitutes a complex structure on the large format screen, which can be moved back and forth by the machine to reach all areas of the drawing. The robot’s movements are determined by the machine’s inherent logic, which consists of the machine’s specific features in physical geometry, dynamics, control system and software. They constitute the robot’s characteristic imaging method and endow the machine with an individual and distinctive drawing style. The generated image gives a partly abstract partly realistic representation of the original information interpreted by the robot itself.


About robotlab

robotlab / Matthias Gommel, Martina Haitz, Jan Zappe

robotlab was founded in 2000 by Matthias Gommel, Martina Haitz and Jan Zappe at the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany. robotlab develops artistic installations and performances with industrial robots which are normally used for industrial production. Integrated as ready-mades into the group’s art projects, the robots invade consistently new thematic or cultural contexts. Thus, their works discuss the human-machine relationships on many different levels. In robotlab’s installations the role of the machine is always defined as that of an autonomous, creative agent.



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