What is the ‘Can’t Help Myself’ art exhibit going viral on TikTok?

Georgina Smith
Images of Can't Help Myself exhibitTikTok: 2k.kxoll

A robot art exhibit by artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, titled ‘Can’t Help Myself,’ is going viral on TikTok, thanks to videos of the machine slowing down after years of being active.

TikTok is home to just about every type of content under the sun, and the whole app is frequently united by huge trends that make waves on the platform, garnering millions of likes and views.

While many are often touched by emotional stories about people, or perhaps animals, the latest thing people are feeling an emotional connection with is actually a robot.

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‘Can’t Help Myself’ is a piece by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu that was commissioned for the Guggenheim Museum, and was first installed in 2016.

The exhibit features a robotic arm placed behind clear walls, whose sole purpose is to contain a deep-red liquid within a certain area by scraping it towards itself. As a result, the red liquid gets smeared and splattered across the walls and floor.

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‘Can’t Help Myself’ exhibit goes viral

According to the Guggenheim Museum website, the piece uses “visual-recognition sensors and software systems to examine our increasingly automated global reality, one in which territories are controlled mechanically and the relationship between people and machines is rapidly changing.”

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However, as the exhibit was installed in 2016, over the years it began to slow down significantly. This led to it going hugely viral on TikTok, with people feeling sad for the machine.

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“It looks frustrated with itself, like it really wants to be finally done,” one comment with over 350,000 likes reads. “It looks so tired and unmotivated,” another said.

Several videos of the piece have garnered millions of likes and tens of millions of views, and as the clips continue to circulate, there’s no doubt that people will continue giving their interpretations on the exhibit online.

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About The Author

Georgina was formerly an entertainment writer for Dexerto. She covered all aspects of influencer culture on TikTok and more, including creators such as Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae. She also wrote about hit reality shows such as Love Island and Below Deck.