Watch a human be flung around by a robot in the name of art

There are plenty of artworks that explore how the artist’s role is being upended in the face of artificial intelligence and advanced robotics. There probably aren’t many that explore this as literally as Serbian artist Dragan Ilic’s DI-2K4.

For DI-2K4, Ilic obtained an industrial robot used in factory production and repurposed it to become an artist’s hand. The paintbrush in this scenario is Ilic himself, strapped to the business end of the machine and twirled around a large canvas. As Motherboard points out, the result comes across like a dystopian reimagining of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times – but with more purple paint.

“Construed for non-artistic purposes, these robots have been reshaped into special draftsmanship implements with which the author is capable of processing his ideas at far greater speed and with considerably greater precision,” writes art historian Vladimir Bjelicic in an accompanying statement. “The metamorphosis of the artistic work is positioned at a point where human and machine activity intersects, resulting in an interaction that is essentially based on the need to transcend the limitations of the human body.”

A human has presumably programmed the machine, so focusing on Ilic’s dance with the industrial arm arguably neglects a crucial layer of the creative process. If the machine were able to adapt its movements to Ilic’s gestures, or go directly against them, that would be an interesting dialogue. As it stands, there seems to be a willful ignorance towards the programmer’s contribution in order to heighten the sense that Ilic is dealing with, as Bjelicic claims, a “constellation in which the machine controls and steers man”.

Still, it looks fun right?


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