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Friday, April 14, 2006

Graffiti robot drips technology

Meet Hektor, a portable machine that replaces the artist

"Auto Portrait" is a weekend of "sonic and visual interludes" taking place at Information Gallery in Tokyo from April 14 to 16. The show features automated wall paintings by Hektor, a portable spray paint output device for laptop computers. There will also be a theremin performance by Yuri Suzuki and short film loops projected onto a wall.

News photo
"In a Beautiful Place" (2004), Hektor and Urs Lehni

The show is organized by design unit Field Trip, currently based in Tokyo, London and Zurich and formed by Alex Rich, Jon Hares and Jurg Lehni.

Hektor was built by Lehni, a Swiss designer with a background in computer science, and engineer Uli Franke. The device -- the parts of which can fit into a single suitcase -- was nominated for an award at the media art festival Machinista 2003 held in Russia and designed the cover for the September 2004 issue of I.D. Magazine.

News photo
"We Try Harder" (2002), Cornel Windlin and Hektor

Hektor consists of "two motors, toothed belts and a can holder that handles regular spray cans," Lehni says. The motors allow the spray can to be positioned within a defined area. "During operation, the mechanism sometimes trembles and wobbles, and the paint often drips." It is this contrast between the hi- and low-tech -- and the "results of technology failing or not being able to keep up with its promises" -- that makes Hektor interesting to watch, Lehni says. At the show's opening on Friday (7:30 p.m.), Hektor will be doing wallpaintings. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, Hektor will be used to produce posters which the public can buy.

"Auto Portrait" runs April 14-16, 12-8 p.m. at Information Gallery, 2F, 1-9-17-103 Shinonome, Koto-ku, Tokyo, a five-minute walk from Tatsumi Station on the Yurakucho subway line. Admission is free.



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