Selfie Automaton

Romanian Pavilion
15th International Architecture Exhibition
La Biennale di Venezia

Photo © Dacian Groza

A famous archival image from 1977 shows Nicolae Ceaușescu inspecting a vast model of the future Bucharest, from a sliding bridge, dispensing advice to its architects.

The political environment has changed since then, but the metaphor persists and implies a question of positioning.

Are decisions still being taken from a sliding bridge? And are we, as individuals, through our particular actions and social relations, on or under that bridge?

It is this question of positioning that the project attempts to raise, through a set of 6 mechanical automata. The visitor is invited to temporarily switch roles, from the passive and contemplative, to a participative one, by putting the installations in motion.

The automata, made of sets of stereotypical characters, place the visitor in various spatial relations from distant observer (“Circle Dance”), to being part of it (“The Banquet”) or on opposite sides (“The Committee”) inviting to introspection, and questioning our role in the social mechanism.

Automata, machines that perform a range of functions according to a predetermined set of coded instructions, are known in history as both entertainment objects and precursors of automatization*.

By using these narrative installations, the exhibition proposes, in the form of a critical entertainment show, an alternative to a selfie.

* There is at least one relevant example — that of Vaucanson, who is known as the constructor of both “The Digesting Duck” and one of the first automated rooms.