HILDE & BÅRD TØRDAL | 2010 and still running…

papp, |pap| noun
norwegian word for cardboard or carton (from lat. pappare ‘eat’ porridge, papp as the porridge which paper and carton is made of)

card•board |’kärd,bôrd| noun
pasteboard or stiff paper : [as adj. ] a cardboard box.
[as adj. ] (of a character in a literary work)
lacking depth and realism; artificial : “with its superficial, cardboard characters, the novel was typical of her work.”


Papp is a small robot programmed to hide in a cardboard box. The creature inside is never seen apart from the eyes. A box is the classic camouflage for someone trying to hide, we never get to know who these creatures are; the only things visible are the wide open eyes searching from side to side as the robot scurries from one place to the next.

Papp was redeveloped from our first fully autonomous robot sculpture, “A Perfect Day” (2001). This older robot was a slapdash thing constructed in our studio over a weekend. A small creature, made of scraps of wood, an old umbrella, table tennis balls, wheels, skateboard ball bearings, plywood and some pieced-together electronics. The robot worked flawlessly, hiding in its box and weaving between the legs of the audience at the opening night of its first exhibition, but it was put in storage for seven years before we picked up the idea again.

Papp evokes sympathy or scorn, and the reaction of the audience is to either and help (often talking to it as to a small child) or hinder the little robot. There may be many reasons for trying to hide, which can be more or less serious. Papp gives no answers but functions as a blank canvas, an electromechanical representation of the need to disappear and blend in.

Ten artists participated in the first series of Papp and gave their interpretation to the project. Invited artists were Akinori Oishi (JP), Christine Wong (aka Wonting) (US), eBoy (GER), Ian Stevenson (UK), Little Friends of Printmaking (US), Luke Ramsey (CAN), Micjhel Diniz de Carvalho (NO) and Motomicho Nakamura (JP). As a part of the exhibition, we held workshops with the audience – especially with children from kindergarden, schools and colleges. After the show parts of the Papp exhibition was sold to DKS, and toured for a year in Telemark and we held talks and workshops for 6500 high school students.

Papp has been featured at many festivals and exhibitions, in various versions, around the world since this first exhibition. We revamped the technical design and made a new exhibition “Papp 2.0” featuring new artists at DogA in Oslo (this show featured also the huge Mecha Papp). Papp became a monumental concrete sculpture at the North Norwegian Arts Festival and a face tracking expressionist portrait at the Pictoplasma Portrait exhibition. Papp was also featured as the front page illustration on the german magazine Brand Einz. More information and images about these projects will be coming soon!

Papp 1.0

Some of the artists editions from the Papp 1.0 show…

Motomichi Nakamura

Motomichi Nakamura

Ian Stevenson

Ian Stevenson

Christine Wong aka Wonting

Michel Diniz de Carvahlo

Luke Ramsey

Ian Stevenson


Akinori Oishi

Akinori Oishi

Little Friends of Printmaking

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