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Close encounters: have your portrait drawn by ‘6 Robots Named Paul’

Posted at 4:30 pm, October 10, 2012 in Arts & Entertainment, Fun London
Patrick Tresset's '6 Robots Named Paul' © Rob Greig

If you’ve ever had your portrait scribbled by one of the digital disembodied hands at an arcade artist photo booth, you will have a vague idea of what it feels like to be drawn by a robot. However, those crappy automated scrawls won’t fully prepare you for French artist/scientist Patrick Tresset’s incredible installation ‘6 Robots Named Paul’ opening today at the Merge Festival (until October 21). Picture the scene: you walk into a large studio space, there are classic wooden tables set up ready with pen and paper for a group of eager artists and you are their model. All sounds pretty normal, except that the hands clutching the biros are automated whirring robotic arms and the beady eyes that glance up and scrutinise you are digital cameras.

Patrick Tresset's '6 Robots Named Paul' © Rob GreigPatrick’s robots are enchanting. Although they are all programmed to replicate his own drawing style, and in spite of using the same software, they each have their own personalities, techniques and style. Sitting as their subject, it is very easy to feel like you are in a real life-drawing class full of different characters.

Patrick Tresset's '6 Robots Named Paul' © Rob Greig

One Paul at the back (above) messed around and then started scribbling a self-portrait of his own arm.

Patrick Tresset's '6 Robots Named Paul' © Rob Greig

Another Paul took an 10 minutes longer than the rest to carefully finish off the details of my shirt.

Patrick Tresset's '6 Robots Named Paul' © Rob Greig

The Pauls all captured a vague likeness of me (apart from the back row rebel) and although I knew that they were working from a photo they’d taken at the start and only running through the motions of studying my face, their intensity made me want to sit extremely still for them.

Patrick Tresset's '6 Robots Named Paul' © Rob Greig

Having your portrait drawn by a robot (let alone a cluster of five) is a rare and brilliantly futuristic experience. Who needs real artists when these machines do such a cracking job?!

Patrick Tresset's '6 Robots Named Paul' © Rob Greig

Although the sessions to sit for five of the six Pauls are now booked up, you can still drop in to be sketched by the sixth Paul anytime until the show closes. Sonya Barber

For info, see mergefestival.co.ukHear about it from Patrick below…

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