H.A.U.S. Performance “The Robot is Present” at Ars Electronica 2017

Our performance concept of “The Robot is Present” (read here, and here) refers to Marina Abramovic performance „The Artist is Present“ – and turns it inside out.

A visitor is being confronted with this perfect, shiny, white and cute humanoid machine – not in a white cube of abstraction from life, like a museum or a shopping mall. But in a place, grey, narrow, full of things, and traces of labour. It’s about experiencing a confrontation with something alien, in an environment of becoming, transformation, as well as concrete material factuality. To experience what becomes present and where it becomes present, in the space that opens up between two complex and alien agents, that are the human and the humanoid.

Presence glimpses and interviews of H.A.U.S. (Video by Christine Pavlic for 48×3)

Two days and nights; we often had way too many people in our space. These where the moments when the performance turned into an unintended happening.

But most of the time the performance emitted a quiet and focused atmosphere, allowing for an exceptional, dense and immediate experience of the technological otherness.

Interestingly, there were those visitors who at first wanted to know about the concept before facing the robot and others who simply jumped in the experience. The latter always expected the usual from the robot, that is to be interactive by speech and motion. They quickly found out, that our performance radically did not fulfil those expectations. Then they got curious about what it is about.

A few glimpses at the performance and an interview of H.A.U.S. mostly german (Video by Christine Pavlic for 48×3)

With both groups of visitors, we had lots of discussions, learning about the host of different experiences they made. The Robot is Present evoked emotions in a spectrum from fear to joy and from distancing to embracing.