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Monday 2 October 2023 Dublin: 13°C
Leon Farrell/
# seeing is believing
Fancy having your portrait drawn by three robots called Paul in Dublin?
The opportunity is part of a new exhibition at Dublin’s Science Gallery.

THE SCIENCE GALLERY in Dublin will open its doors to robot artists, eye-tracking software and other fascinating projects this summer.

The new exhibition SEEING: WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT? is all about challenging perceptions and looking at how machines and humans see things.

We headed down to Pearse Street to have a look at what’s on display there from today until 25 September.

3 Robots Named Paul

IMG_2618 / Róisín Nestor 3 Robots Named Paul / Róisín Nestor / Róisín Nestor

3RNP or 3 Robots Named Paul is exactly like a life drawing class – except the artists are robots comprising of old school desks, web cams and robotic arms.

Visitors can sit down to be drawn by the robots and will be sent a digital version of their portraits.

The web cams look at their human subjects and then down at the page. The robot-arm sketches the pictures in an incredibly life-like way that’s also a bit eerie. The three robots draw at different speeds, from different angles and in slightly different styles.

IMG_2611 / Róisín Nestor The finished drawings / Róisín Nestor / Róisín Nestor

Speaking to about why he created this piece, Patrick Tresset laughed and said he is a painter and was looking for something to replace him.

The London-based artist created the model in 2011 and has been working constantly to improve it since. His work has been exhibited all around the world, including in the Tate Modern in London, MMCA in Seoul and the Fondazione Prada in Milan.

Capture / Róisín Nestor / Róisín Nestor / Róisín Nestor

How distance fuels misconceptions

IMG_2620 / Róisín Nestor David Cotterrell pictured with his exhibit / Róisín Nestor / Róisín Nestor

Another exhibit that stood out was Mirror II – Distance, created by British artist David Cotterrell.

The exhibition consists of two white boxes, each with a small screen displaying a video of a security guard.

It’s based on the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan. The entrances are monitored by local Pakistani guards and David was intrigued by the situation when he visited.

He described the idea:

I wanted to show the risk of polarising communities. Distance reduces the chance for empathy
When you’re watching from a distance, you can’t tell if the stereotype you have assumed in your head is the right one and these guards won’t leave their post.

He said that Pakistan is full of challenges but problems of perception are common in every country.

It’s actually quite a welcoming country. Some parts are even as liberal as certain cities in Great Britain. There’s so many tribes and languages – as much diversity as countries closer to us.

This is the second of five mirror projects that challenge relationships. Cotterall has already done one with a doctor and patient. He is hoping to base the next three in Rwanda and Burundi, Derry and Palestine.

What else to look out for

There are two floors of interactive projects, videos and information to experience at the exhibition.

Try out some eye-movement tracking software or see how distorted your face has to become before digital recognition software can’t pick it up.

There’s also optometry technology to check your retinas and an exhibit that explores the association of colours and music notes.

IMG_2624 / Róisín Nestor / Róisín Nestor / Róisín Nestor

The SEEING: WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT? exhibition is open to the public today in the Science Gallery Dublin and will run until 25 September.

Read: This award-winning photographer has seen it all – and the stress even gave him alopecia

Read: Do you think about where your food comes from? It might be time to start

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