Robotic Arms Make Your Trees Now

BY Katrina Kufer / Jun 15 2017 / 20:12 PM

The Collectors Lounge at Art Basel features immersive commissions in a collaboration with luxury Swiss watch manufacturer Audemars Piguet

Robotic Arms Make Your Trees Now
Image courtesy the artist
Cheng Ran. Still from Circadian Rhythm.

Two artists worked under the fair and art patron watchmaker’s shared ethos of creativity and craftsmanship in the creation of a large-scale installation reserved for the VIP collector’s lounge at Art Basel – however, collectors who visited Art Basel’s Hong Kong fair will already have gotten a glimpse of it.

Chilean Sebastien Errazuriz’s Second Nature marks his second Piguet-commissioned work, and consists of a branch inspired by Swiss spruce trees from the Jura mountain area, where Piguet originated. “I wanted to create a tree […] that was unique in its shape and identity,” Errazuriz explains in a video depicting the production. Made by robotic-armed machinery from detailed sketches, CAD drawings, the artist details a process that in essence involves deconstructing a real tree in order to mimetically reproduce a tree through technology and modern day craftsmanship. By first cutting down a tree, removing the bark and separating it into blocks, Errazuriz then glued it back together with machinery to “create a tree that does not exist.” Errazuriz then laboriously hand-carved every grain down to the millimetre, he claims, “a level of detail where you’re only dreaming of replicating nature.”

The second work is a video piece by Mongolian Cheng Ran, who likewise fuses technology and nature in Circadian Rhythm, which explores the internal biological clock that dictates sleep cycles. However, the tone takes a darker turn – nature plays second fiddle to technology, seeming almost powered by it. Nature adopts a markedly synthetic sensation. Depicting various chromatically vivid landscapes – rushing water, crystals, caves, forests – in combination with a minimal electronic beat combined animal sounds and chimes, the scenery appears to be a staged set as backgrounds and foregrounds disappear and return as the lights flicker on and off, in keeping with the beat of the ambient music.

Art Basel runs 15-18 June at Messe Basel, Switzerland. For more information visit