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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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  • On January 14, 2022

Sisyphus is a robotic art installation that features two robots engaged in an endless cyclic mechanism. A team of small robots keep building brick arches while a giant robot pushes them down. The robotic systems propel a narrative of construction and deconstruction.


Named after a figure in Greek mythology, who is condemned to push a boulder up a hill every day only to watch it roll back down afterwards. Sisyphus is a commentary on the current socio-political climate, where systems of authority and resistance continuously clash against each other. Repetition is explored in this piece through the interaction of two contrasting robotic systems; one small and nimble, the other powerful and oppressive – the Greek Sisyphus representing either or both of them.

Despite the discrepancy that exists between the size of the two robots, their struggle is endless. The giant robot does not make any concessions and continues to crush the brick arches. Even once destroyed, however, the small robots proceed to building new brick arches, thereby manifesting a collective resistance through individual autonomous actions. Here, the status quo is continuously challenged by small, dispersed acts that disrupt the absolute power of the giant robot. The persistence of the small robots and their ability to propagate small-scale, new forms of resistance makes all efforts worthwhile, as opposed to ‘futile’. Hence, Sisyphus symbolizes not only the confrontation between power and resistance, but also the hope that comes with the possibility of change.


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