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Fearful Symmetries: a robotic performance at Tate Modern

Clare S Ryan24 August 2012

Credit: Simon Kennedy

Fearful Symmetries is a new robotic installation by Ruairi Glynn (UCL Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment), commissioned for the Tate’s Undercurrent programme at their new Tanks gallery. Clare Ryan went to see the performance live.

In the bowels of Tate Modern, an industrial cave, hidden for decades, has been awakened. As the crowd chatters expectantly outside the Tanks gallery, something lies in wait behind heavy doors.

The audience file into the cavernous space and turn to see a bright triangular light floating in the middle of the room, in stark relief against the dense darkness in the concrete tank. As we start to gather around the angular orb, it begins to slide back and forth – activated by our arrival.

Deep bass sounds bounce off the walls and the almost animal-like motions of the light captivate us. Clapping, whistling, waving audience members try and attract its attention. Murmurs of intrigue join the resonating beats – can it see us? Can it hear us? Is it motion sensitive?

As it hovers above your head, you gaze upwards and reach out your hands as the pointed, glowing orb takes you in. Guiding the audience around the space, it is playfully encouraging us to become a part of the performance.

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