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Self-Portrait Machine
Regine Debatty, 2 Jul 09

More nuggets from the RCA show. This time from Design Products' edgy and inspiring Platform 13, headed by the very talented Onkar Kular and Sebastien Noel.

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Images courtesy Jen Hui Liao

Jen Hui Liao's Self-Portrait Machine is a device that takes a picture of the sitter and draws it but with the model's help. The wrists of the individual are tied to the machine and it is his or her hands that are guided to draw the lines that will eventually form the portrait.

The project started with the observation that nearly everything that surrounds us has been created by machines. Our personal identities are represented by the products of the man-machine relationship. The Self-Portrait Machine encapsulates this man-machine relationship. By co-operating with the machine, a self-portrait is generated. It is self-drawn but from an external viewpoint through controlled movement and limited possibility. Our choice of how we are represented is limited to what the machine will allow.

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Images courtesy Jen Hui Liao

The project aims to explore the cooperation process of human & machine. The designer explains: I found some the relationship between human and machine are amazing and could be horrible (like this one that shows how we human invent machines then put human inside to it to manufacture goods), The final object - A machine is a miniature of what I understand through the process of research, and the aim of the machine is to let people have a chance to feel the condensed process of how we generate our self identity from external point of view as from the society, which is a big machine we all in.

P.S. the website of Self-Portrait Machine will be on line soon, it will show more about the background research and the building process of it. I'll update this post as soon as the website is up.

Videos of the machine in action.

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Exhibition view. The designer had aligned portraits made by the machines along with portraits made by painters

The Royal College of Art Show is open every day from 11amd to 8pm until July 5, 2009.

This piece originally appeared in We Make Money Not Art.

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