The Make-up Machine

Prototype for a fictional service at RCA Design Interactions, 2009–2010.

The Make-up machine combines a stationary robot with a performance celebrating the ritual of applying make-up.

It was conceived as a theatrical device rather than one of practicality. While taking cues from slapstick humour, the film alludes to both ritual and mechanisation. The machine replicates three stages of make-up application. 1. foundation, 2. blusher 3. lipstick.

A human subject is seated on a specially placed position in front of the device, wearing a robe. Directed by an aerodynamic mask, a layer of foundation is transferred onto the subject’s face by computer-controlled fans. Afterwards, robotic arms automatically move into position at the subject’s cheeks where a set of rotating brushes applies red blusher. The arms move away, and a stamp-like protruding shaft is propelled from the device, placing a shaped coat of lipstick.

The project was shown at the Royal College of Art in February 2010 and the Barbican Art Gallery in April 2010.

The brushes of the Make-up Machine apply blusher
Full version of the Make-up Machine Performance, HDV, 2:31 min.
Portrait of the subject after application of machined make-up
View of the Make-up Machine during a performance at the Royal College of Art
Experimenting before building the machine, DV, 2:32min
The Performance video being played in a gallery
The Make-up machine installed at Barbican Art Gallery