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Hany Armanious

Empathy Chart 2009

Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds donated by Andrew and Cathy Cameron, 2009

cast polyurethane, pigment

86 × 122 × 2cm

About the Artwork

Hany Armanious is a sculptor who explores ideas of doubling and artifice through the transformation of objects. Utilising the process of casting, he creates simulacra of insigificant everyday objects, investing them with enigmatic value. Fastidious explorations of form, they are often decorative as well as humorous.

Empathy Chart, seemingly a scruffy, broken pinboard, is a carefully cast work in polyurethane, replete with scuff marks and uneven edges. The pins are coloured dots of coloured polyurethane that the artist placed into the mould prior to pouring.

Empathy Chart was shown in his 2009 exhibition Uncanny Valley, the title alluding to 1970s research into robotics by the Japanese roboticist, Masahiro Mori. When charting public attitudes toward robots with human attributes, Mori found that as the robots became more life-like, people’s empathy with the robots increased; but as the robots’ appearance improved and they became more human-like, unexpectedly people’s attitudes switched sharply from empathy to repugnance. It is this graph of people’s responses which Armanious references in Empathy Chart, and the idea of the disturbing copy is something that has become a feature of his practice.

My work … needs time. Something that’s seemingly fairly straight forward and self-explanatory actually is full of riddles … incidental things speak to me.

Hany Armanious, 'Hany Armanious: The Golden Thread', SBS STVDIO Documentary, 2011

Hany Armanious

– About the artist

b.1962

Hany Armanious was born in Ismalia, Egypt in 1962 and migrated to Sydney with his family in 1967. He lives and works in Sydney. Armanious is a sculptor whose work is predominantly concerned with the magical properties of the casting process. Many of his works deal with the alchemical transformation of one object into another via what the artist has described as the ‘cult of casting’.

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