Corporeal company: Random International explores movement with robots and mirrors
How much visual information does one need to discern another moving human? What is the relationship between man and machine? These abstruse questions yield surprisingly playful answers in ‘On the Body’, a new exhibition by Random International at the Pace Gallery in New York. Hannes Koch and Florian Ortkrass, the founders of the Berlin- and London-based contemporary design studio, showed six new interactive pieces from the past two years.
Arranged chronologically, the show highlights two of the firm’s latest projects: Fifteen Points, a robotic sculpture that executes a rather jaunty walk through LED lights; and Blur Mirror, a reflective work composed of tiny tiles that cloud the face of one’s reflection. For Fifteen Points, Koch and Ortkrass worked with the BioMotion Lab at Queen’s University to translate the data of the ‘average human walk’ into a mechanised movement. ‘We were interested in the secondary information one gets through miniscule changes like emotions or gender,’ Koch says. (Fifteen Points reads as male and appears to be happy, as far as robots go.) Blur Mirror is described by the pair as ‘very analogue – we manipulated the mirrored tiles to vibrate at a high-speed to give the appearance of a digitised experience even though it is a mechanical process’.
Other pieces in the exhibition evolved out of Random International’s collaboration with choreographer Wayne McGregor in 2010 and further explore the body’s movement. For example, Small Study / I (FAR) lights up in response to motion and its thick layers of lights and panels invite the viewer to interact with it on multiple sides. Conversely, Fragments, a grid of 200 square mirrors, physically tilts and turns to follow its viewers. As a whole, the exhibition explores light, shadow, motion and the human perspective in an up-close, personal way. ‘We like to create one-on-one experiences where the person has a very intimate encounter with the work,’ Ortkrass concludes.