Master / Slave
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Master / Slave, toy robot installation at Fondation Cartier in Paris
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Master / Slave
Fondation Cartier, Paris, France
Photograph by ___________
Photograph by __________
The installation in the Cartier Foundation displays Rolf Fehlbaum’s collection of toy robots and delves into the myth of the robot in popular culture. The robot was thought to be a surrogate body that could perform menial tasks leaving man free for more important endeavors. Early on, however, a dystopic fear imagined that the robot could acquire enough artificial intelligence to invert the master-slave relationship. This fantasy guides the display strategy— to tease the viewer with only partial information. Spectators are squeezed into the space between the giant 1000 square-foot glass vitrine and the glass envelope of the gallery. The colony of robots parades on a conveyor belt along a 300-foot long circuit, often sacrificing direct views with scientific ones— through an airport scanning device that broadcasts robotic entrails and magnified information delivered through a micro-surveillance system. The atmosphere of the robot space is modeled on an unemployment office in a generic commercial 1960s building.