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FOTOBOT (article first published : 2005-12-19)

This new media art work will be found in public spaces of South Africa throughout 2006. Fotobot is essentially an automatic portrait machine, which can be fixed on the inside of any shop window. From outside, people can take a self-portrait by waving their hands and triggering an infrared switch. The portrait is instantly transferred to a website and can be found there at anytime.

The first concept is to travel a single Fotobot-installation to major art festivals in South Africa during 2006 (Cape Town, Oudtshoorn, Grahamstown). However in Johannesburg, the final destination, the Fotobots will be used in a different way because, contrary to the other cities visited, the metropolis of Johannesburg is not a clear and defined geographical setting. Much more, the city shows a huge, endless puzzle of socially very different areas. As such, the concept will change from a single installation in the town-centre to a network-installation connecting different areas of Johannesburg.

At the festivals, two Fotobots are installed in a shop window acting as a "voting-installation". Passer-byes vote with their own faces either at the YES-Fotobot or the NO-Fotobot. Specific questions related to each city in two languages are placed on a banner above the window as well as on the Fotobot-screen. These questions change weekly. The interaction of the local people with this installation will give an impression of the self-awareness in the post-apartheid era.

The Fotobots will appear at The Cape Town Festival from March 3 to 24, in Oudtshoorn at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees from April 1 to 8 and the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown from June 29 to July 8.

The artist/producer is Martin Roth who has long-term experience in communications, new media, video, music and theatre.




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