The installation in the Cartier Foundation, as part of the exhibition 1 monde réel 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 1,000 sf glass vitrine and the glass envelope of the gallery. The atmosphere of the robot space is modeled on an unemployment office in a generic commercial 1960s building.The colony of robots parades on a conveyor belt along a 300’ 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.

  • 35' x 35' glass vitrine supported by pilotis
    35' x 35' glass vitrine supported by pilotis
  • X-ray view
    X-ray view
  • Robots on 300' conveyer belt
  • Details of robots in Master/Slave
  • Robots on 300' conveyor belt
  • X-ray grid
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  • X-ray view
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Project information
Location         Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris, France
opening30th June 1999closed19th November 1999
TeamElizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio
    Photography by Valerie Belin