A headbanging robot’s squatting in The Peninsula Hong Kong’s stately lobby, in the name of art
Industrial machine that looks as if it is spying on guests may put some off their afternoon tea and scones, though the installation’s British creator, Conrad Shawcross, insists it is both dumb and harmless
Tea at The Peninsula is going to be a bit different for the next couple of weeks. A giant industrial robot sits smack in the middle of the normally serene, neoclassical lobby of the Kowloon hotel, swaying its head – which has a long probe attached – to music in a lonely dance.
Its maker is British artist Conrad Shawcross, who has brought it over for The Peninsula Hong Kong’s second “Love Art” collaboration with Britain’s Royal Academy of Arts to coincide with the Art Basel Hong Kong fair.
The robot’s presence is slightly menacing; a seemingly sentient being reacts to the music while using its probe to gather the sights and sounds of humans gobbling down their tea and scones. Its spidery legs are fixed, at least, so there is no danger of its proboscis getting too close.
“Having it in The Peninsula is the most controversial location yet, in these conservative, beautiful colonial surroundings. People come for tea and jazz but they are confronted by this startling, sexual machine. The ... past is destabilised,” he says.
The ADA Project, The Lobby, The Peninsula, Salisbury Road, Kowloon. Ends April 5