Can’t Help Myself, helpless concerned robots


The use of industrial robots in art usually takes advantage of the powerful aesthetic values transmitted by their sheer force, usually mediated by an alien mechanic elegance. In installations, they’re protected from the audience for security reasons, and that just enhances their exotic qualities as beasts from another planet in a futuristic zoo. Can’t Help Myself by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu uses a Kuka industrial robot, too. Its arm has a giant squeegee attached, which endlessly tries with quick and precise movements to wipe back to the centre, the dark red liquid surrounding it on the floor, never succeeding. The helpless, sometimes frantic cleaning gestures can be controversially interpreted, because the liquid looks very similar to blood. The artists define their position in anticipating the future as “pleasure and panic” and the work has been commissioned and acquired as their first robotic artwork by the Guggenheim Museum.


Sun Yuan & Peng Yu – Can’t Help Myself