HUMAN STUDY # 1, RNP.d (in progress)
Human Study#1, RNP is an installation where the human becomes an actor. In a scene reminiscent of a life drawing class, the human takes the sitter’s role to be sketched by one robot. When the subject arrives by appointment, he is seated in an armchair. An assistant attaches a sheet of paper on to the robot desks and wakes it up, twisting its arm.
The robot, a stylised minimal drawer, is only capable of drawing obsessively. Its bodies is an old school desk on which the drawing paper is pinned. Its left arm, bolted on the table, holding black bic biro, is only able to draw. Its eye focuses on the subject or look at the drawing in progress.
The drawing sessions last 20 min, during which time the human cannot see the drawing in progress. The sitter only sees the robot alternating between observing and drawing, sometimes pausing. The sitter is in an ambivalent position, at the mercy of the robots’ scrutiny, but also as an object of artistic attention. As the model in a life drawing class, the human is personality -less, an object of study. The human sitter is passive, the robot taking what is perceived as the artistic role. Although immobile, the model is active in keeping the pose, for the spectators the sitter is an integral part of the installation.
RNP was originally developed by Tresset to palliate a debilitating painter’s block. It could be seen as a creative prosthetic or a behavioral self-portrait. Even if the way the robot draws is based on Tresset’s technique, its style is not a pastiche but rather an interpretation influenced by the robot’s characteristics. The new version of the robot (RNP.d) integrates machine learning to influence its perception of the drawing in progress.
Tresset constantly works on the computational system controlling the robot’s drawing behaviour, and for each exhibition the systems are tuned again until they produce interesting drawings. Using autonomous robots to draw from observation enables Tresset to further his exploration of the drawing practice.
5RNP (the larger version of the installation) was premiered at the Merge festival in association with Tate Modern in London in 2012, it has since been exhibited in numerous locations including at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Arts (Seoul) at Ars Electronica 2014 (Linz), BOZAR (Brussels), Variation (Paris), BIAN (Montreal), Japan Media Festival (Kyoto), Update_5 (Ghent) where it was awarded the Prix du Public and 3rd Prix du Jury, it was also awarded the Bronze Lumen Prize, part of the jury selection at the Japan media festival. The smaller version 3RNP has been extensively exhibited around the world.
The drawings produced during the Human Study #1 performances became parts of another artwork titled “Collection” which already includes more than 36000 drawings of people. An installation and publication based on this artwork are at the planning stage.
Patrick Tresset is a Brussels-based artist who, in his work, explores human traits and the aspects of human experience. His work reflects recurrent ideas such as embodiment, passing time/time passing, childhood, conformism, obsessiveness, nervousness, the need for storytelling, and mark-making. He is best known for his performative installations using robotic agents as stylized actors that make marks and for his exploration of the drawing practice using computational systems and robots.
His work has been exhibited in solo and group shows, including in association with major museums such as; The Pompidou Center (Paris), Prada Foundation (Milan), Tate Modern (London), V&A, MMCA (Seoul), The Grand Palais (Paris), BOZAR (Brussels), TAM (Beijing), Mcam (Shanghai), Mori Museum (Tokyo). His drawings are in a large number of small private collections and in more significant ones, including the V&A (London), Guerlain Foundation (Paris), McaM (Shanghai) and Maison d’ailleurs (Yverdon, CH). His installations have been awarded prizes and distinctions (Lumens, Ars Electronica, NTAA, Japan Media festival) . His works have featured in numerous media, including; Art press, Art review, Beaux art, Frieze, Arte, Form, Wired, Vice, BBC, DeWelle, Le monde, New York Times.
Tresset holds an MPhil and MSc in Arts and Technology from the University of London. Apart from his artistic practice, he has taught or collaborated with the University of London, the Royal College of Art, Konstanz University as a senior fellow and is currently a distinguished international visitor and adjunct assistant professor at the University of Canberra in Australia. In 2017, he was designated a World Economic Forum Cultural Leader. He has published research papers in the fields of social robotics, computational creativity, and computational aesthetics.
Of all the artificial intelligence techniques, machine learning has been the most successful. Here, rather than directly programming a set of instructions for performing an intelligent task, the instructions are extracted by finding patterns in data about the task. Once learned, a model of the data can be used to: answer questions about unseen data; split similar data into meaningful categories; and even generate more data like the original.