Selfie Automaton, an exhibition for the Romanian Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, utilizes an automated puppet show to raise the question: “can we—architects—mock ourselves? Can we imagine a less idyllic selfie?”
The exhibit contains seven “mechanical automata” with forty-six built in characters assembled in decided locations for the show. Unlike typical puppets, these wooden marionettes have been removed from their strings, which typically give them the "freedom of movement," and are nailed to various mechanisms that only allow for one repetitive gesture.
Visitors will experience the show as they walk through the stage, giving them a dual role as guest and puppet. They can then use pedals and handles to move the puppets and perform various shows. As the puppets move, the objects begin to share relationships with not only one another, but also with visitors controlling them.
“We tried to raise questions about the character, the position, and the role of the individual (including the architect), in what is generally and superficially called the system,” said the exhibition team in a press release.
Selfie Automation is an assembly of parts that when combined, reflect the “search of a self portrait, be it of an architect or of anyone else.” Through the interaction with the puppets, visitors will question if these predefined patterns exist on their own, of if users are their generators.