Robotic Painting - Flo Series


Experiments with New Zealand's first robotic paint machine produced a body of work investigating art-making as system, and authorship (with its contingent values of identity and authenticity) as process - and not solely the product of the artist's touch. Against the flow of a contemporary art mainstream which dismissed digital painting as fake art, the artist directed a USA-made painting robot she nicknamed Flo, to apply fine French oils onto industrial plastics and stretched substrates in a slow rythmic grid. The mechanical back-and-forth slowly revealed the artist's coded digital content, a laborious exercise that would take several days on larger works. Light and temperature-sensitive, Flo was isolated in a small dark room where turpentine thinners added to the sleep-inducing effects. At any given moment though, the artist's stupour would be abruptly undone, when digital or mechanical elements failed, making incursions into the surface and ejecting paint into the room.

The machine's slick airbrushed results are disrupted in the walled
FAke as Flo penetrates a layered surface of fake grass. A landscape within a landscape, the cornered artwork stands in an architectural environment on the clifftop of confiscated Māori land. Its manifested image and title is a split text: the 'F', a reference to the Northern Hemisphere temperature Fahrenheit and Flo's initial (an artist's signature perhaps), and the 'Ake', in te reo Māori, evoking the battle cry Ake Ake Ake! (Forevermore!) and a particple indicating direction and time. The digital FAke not only intrudes into 'real painting' with its northern roots, it places coded texts in cultural landscapes in states of flux shaped by temperature and time.