A friendly imitation of work

Duo show with Lena Katrine Sokki at M100 Odense, Denmark 2019

With the show A friendly imitation of work at gallery M100 in Odense, we produced a show focusing on artificial intelligence, and the aesthetics of independence tied to the idea of non-human intelligence. Through works were we presented interactions between human and machine, from a non-human perspective, we wanted to question what it means to be an independent individual.

The title of the show is borrowed from Susan Sontag’s book On Photography, where Sontag describes the camera use of tourists as just that: a friendly imitation of work. The title can be read as a reference to the fact that robots have taken over much of the much of the physical labor previously performed by humans. It could also be read as a reference to the original robot, named by the Czech writer Karel Čapek based on the Czech word “robota,'' meaning labor. 

The show was generously supported by The Norwegian Arts Council and Office for Contemporary Art (OCA).

A friendly imitation of work

Compassionate, gentle and personal

Inkjet print photo wallpaper, 355x206 cm

 

The work consists of a photo wallpaper, covering one of the walls in the gallery. The image shows a woman interacting with a robot lawn mower. The way she holds the robot indicates a relation between the two subjects shown in the image.

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A Friendly Imitation of Work

2 channel 4k video - 08:05

 

In the two video channels that make up the work A Friendly Imitation of Work we meet two household appliances: a robot lawn mower and a robot vacuum cleaner. The two machines perform the tasks they have been programmed to perform. The lawn mower is mowing the grass on a lawn, and the vacuum cleaners is cleaning the floor of a public library. The world is presented to the viewer through the low perspective of the machines. In some of the images, people pass by the machines without taking notice of them.

 

A voice over, performed by a synthesized voice, reflects on the photographic gaze and the condition of the photographer. The text being read is a mash up of quotes from the book On Photography by Susan Sontag.

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iRobot Roomba 980

Robot vaccuum cleaner

 

During the exhibition, a robot vaccuum cleaner tended to the space, keeping it clean at all times.