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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 June 2005, 06:40 GMT 07:40 UK
Robots move art forward in Venice

Jon Gower
BBC Wales Arts Correspondent in Venice

Four Welsh artists are exhibiting at one of the world's leading modern art shows over the next few months.

Robots, disturbing sculptures and film installations are being showcased at the Venice Biennale.

An artist-in-residence will also draw on Venetian experiences during the show to produce more work and a book.

The Welsh exhibition has taken over an old brewery on one of the Italian city's small islands.

Laura Ford with one of her child figures
They feel like there's someone underneath them and they'll suddenly get up and walk away
Laura Ford, sculptor

Laura Ford, a Cardiff artist and sculptor, now working in London, has created disturbing, larger-than-life figures.

"They feel like there's someone underneath them and they'll suddenly get up and walk away," said Ford.

"You're not quite sure - maybe it's because of their size or the way they're dressed."

Cardiff-based Paul Granjon combines art and science with robot exhibits which are on the move.

His installation, Robotarium, features male and female robots and one "smartBot" - which curses or cries luminous tears when it hits a border.

One of Paul Granjon's robots
Fluttering i-lashes - one of Paul Granjon's robots

The sexed robots are programmed to explore their surroundings and when in "in heat" mode, they will try to find a partner to "mate".

Granjon, who is from France originally but has worked in Wales for 10 years, said: "It's a bit like a zoo where people can stand and watch what the animals are doing - it's the same, but instead of animals they're watching robots".

Carmarthenshire photographer Peter Finnemore works in the Gwendraeth Valley and has chosen to produce off-beat films.

"It's a massive learning curve," he said of his new work.

Peter Finnemore
Peter Finnemore, with one of his films in the background

"It's a fantastic opportunity to create new work for this environment - and a challenge to work in this space. It's also given me an extra impetus to make use of new technology".

Artist-in-residence is Bedwyr Williams, who was brought up in Colwyn Bay and normally works from Rhostryfan near Caernarfon.

He will be producing new work during the show and launching a book.

It is the second time artists from Wales have been given a specific showcase at the festival, which is held every two years.

Curator Karen Mackinnon said: "Humour's used in all the work to express serious ideas, but it's also accessible."

Culture Minister Alun Pugh, who was in Venice to officially open the Welsh pavilion, said: "The Venice Biennale is the most important contemporary art exhibition in the world and it's entirely appropriate that Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have distinctive exhibitions here".

Wales at the Biennale can be viewed at Ex-Birreria, Giudecca, Venice until 6 November.

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