Huffpost: Robots, Love & Fate In Paris

by Frank Browning

I am not a robot.

Am I?

How can I be sure?

These questions cut to the core of a mind altering exhibition this spring at Paris’s Palais de Tokyo, one of the world’s pre-eminent sites for contemporary art. Sculpture, film, objects lost and found, howling human wolves, a grand sun-drenched room filled with cooked branches facing midnight, an undulating table surrounded by dancing chairs, and a giant inhabitable taxidermist’s bear: all these ask us to reflect and meditate on the commodification of daily life under the direction of a machine driven culture.


Seven contemporary artists drawn from all over the world have come together under the rubric All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace. None of the works intends to demonize the machines on which our daily life rests: MacBooks, Galaxies, walk timers, remote microwaves, expresso capsules, talking GPS car guides or pre-programmed solar panel “turbines.” The pieces here aim to illuminate how thoroughly we are all formed and implicated by the universe of machines.


While you’re looking at kids hopping in and out of the egg, you may well hear a group of air-compressed electronic chairs banging about wildly as they surround an undulating, twinkling table, all designed and crafted by Dorian Gaudin, a young Frenchman transplanted to New York. The chairs seem to petitioning the table to calm down for dinner, alternatively sending out psychic waves of anxiety or contentment, or as curator Julien Fronsacq explains, Gaudin’s “narrative” actions call us to remember how object fetishism and techno addiction increasingly frame and govern how we as humans relate to the world around us.


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February 28, 2017