The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeois Robot 2, 2010, Premier of Queensland's National New Media Art Award 2010, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane. (Autonomous).
Electrical engineer; Aras Vaichas, Programmer; Jeremy Apthorp, Costume; Sally Jackson.
The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie Robot, 2008, The Institute of Contemporary Art Newtown (I.C.A.N). (Internet controlled).
Electrical engineering; Aras Vaichas, Software design; Mr.Snow, Dress maker; Susan Marynowsky, Photograghy; Craig Bender.
By appropriating the title of the film The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie (1972) I pay homage to the surrealist film director Luis Buñuel. The film is about a group of upper middle class people attempting, despite continual interruptions to dine together. So what is Buñuel trying to say? That the bourgeoisie are charming because they have nothing to worry about except how and when they will dine together? Or that they are in fact hideous creatures with nothing better to do than waffle about?
Taking this question into the gallery, the bourgeoisie robot is operated by invited mystery guests over the internet, for the duration of the exhibition. The charming robot avatar waits for visitors to enter the space and then converses with them in a polite and pleasant manner. In doing so the robot questions the role of the gallery as a place of contemplation.
The robot wears a hooped dress, which recalls the beginnings of automata, the 18th century. For example: Jacques de Vaucanson's mechanical flute player and defecating duck (1738). Vaucanson's automata stunned European eyes of the era producing the first uncanny moments in robotic art.
The fact that bourgeois robot's voice is male and that he wears a dress highlights the camp sensibility of robots. As Steve Dixon states in his essay Metal performance (2005) "Robotic movement mimics and exaggerates but never achieves the human, just as camp movement mimics and exaggerates but never achieves womanhood".
Through physical inhabitation of a real-life avatar the work is concerned with the evolution of mediated communication technologies and their influence on the nature of the conversation.