Aiko Groot

Aiko Groot, Three, 2022

Stainless steel tubes, integrated solar panels, 4800 x 200m

As avatars and artificial intelligence become increasingly ubiquitous in our homes and public spaces, ‘the uncanny valley’ has entered the cultural lexicon. Naming the unease we feel upon encountering these technologies when they appear just a bit too-human and a bit too close to home.

Aiko Groot’s Three prompts a similar unease through technology’s mimicry of nature. A trio of trunks, tall like nikau palms but fabricated from stainless steel, are inlaid with solar panels, and programmed to respond at-random to the available sunlight in a prosthetic imitation of photosynthesis.

Like the encounter with our own technologically manipulated image, there is something distinctly unnerving about Groot’s sculptures and their slow, unpredictable movements–but perhaps even more so for the fact that we are excluded from the exchange. Though they are beguiling, this meeting of technology and ecology leaves us somewhere between organism and algorithm, which is to say, left out and unable to make sense of either.


b.1972, the Netherlands. Lives and works in Ohakune.

Aiko Groot’s practice centres on kinetic sculptures that interrogate the ambiguous relationship between humans and technology.

Like the various technologies we interact with daily, from hand-held devices to data clouds, Groot works across scale, creating work for domestic interiors and public spaces. His sculptures use (and misuse) a visual language familiar to us through technology, favouring industrial materials and sleek, geometric forms. Aesthetic cues that are most often about manufacturing continuity between user and device are de-familiarised in Groot’s works, which are engineered to move subtly in response to their environment. Resulting in objects that are neither entirely organic nor mechanical but profoundly uncanny and surprisingly beguiling.

Groot gained a BFA from the Elam School of Fine Arts at The University of Auckland in 1995. His work is held in many public and private collections and has featured in several exhibitions around Aotearoa and overseas, including ‘Spellbound: Art+Alchemy’, The Dowse Museum (2004), and ‘Clean Machine’, Gus Fisher Gallery (2007), and recurrently on the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail.