ART MACHINES - MACHINE ART
18 OCTOBER 2007 – 27 JANUARY 2008
We generally assume that artists make art. But what happens when machines produce art? Do artists then become engineers? What does the artist’s apparent withdrawal from the creative act signify, and what are the consequences of that action for the originality and uniqueness of the artwork? What is then the work of art: the machine, the product, or the act of producing it?
Beginning with Jean Tinguely’s drawing machines from the 1950s and continuing to the present,
DRAWING- AND PAINTING-MACHINE BY JEAN TINGUELY, 1959 / 1960
this exhibition, jointly conceived by the Schirn and the Museum Tinguely in Basel, features art machines that have one thing in common: they produce art themselves. Machines by artists such as Angela Bulloch, Olafur Eliasson, Damien Hirst, Rebecca Horn, Jon Kessler, Tim Lewis, Lia, Miltos Manetas, Roxy Paine, Steven Pippin, Cornelia Sollfrank, Antoine Zgraggen, and Andreas Zybach transform art spaces into production spaces. Thanks to the mechanical process of production, visitors to the exhibition can take home several of the works, such as the Tinguely machine drawings and sheets by Damien Hirst and Olafur Eilasson.
CYCLOGRAVEURCYCLOGRAVEUR, 1960Other, digital works may be produced by the visitors in the exhibition or on the Internet, such as on the websites of Lia or Miltos Manetas.
The exhibition Art Machines Machine Art is supported by Škoda Auto Deutschland GmbH. Additional support was provided by the Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne.
The exhibition Art Machines Machine Art begins in the twentieth century with Jean Tinguely’s oeuvre, which manifests in an extremely original way his effort to come to terms with the machine as an autonomous apparatus of creativity. His Méta-matics, which were exhibited for the first time in 1959 in Paris, and which brought him international renown, are motor-driven drawing machines with which the viewer can produce abstract drawings. The discrepancy between the between the materiality of the Méta-matics and their function of producing art can certain be understood as an ironic commentary on the then dominant faith in technological progress. It also reflects the artistic context of the 1950s: the drawings produced by machine correspond stylistically to Tachist paintings, and hence were a reductio ad absurdum of the notion of gestural abstraction as an immediate expression of an individual artist. This group of works, as a kind of historical core, forms in a sense the basis of the exhibition. It is followed by a selection of works that have one thing in common: the creative act is delegated by the artist to a machine. The latter process only became fully possible after the Second World War, when a generation of young artists arose who broke with one of the most guarded taboos of European art: the idea of the original work of art.
The present selection reflects this process in a variety of artistic media such as painting, drawing, sculpture, and video and ends up with what is perhaps the largest “art machine” of all: the World Wide Web.
TIM LEWISAUTO-DALI PROSTHETIC, 2000
The visitor will find machines that have completed their production before the exhibition began, such as those in Michael Beutler’s sculpture Proper en Droog, and others that produce throughout the duration of the show, such as Roxy Paine’s SCUMAK No. 2, organic-seeming sculptures from a kind of modeling clay that hardens after being pressed out of a machine.
DAMIEN HIRST - BEAUTIFUL TANGLED STREAMERS - DRAWING, 2007
The drawing machines Making Beautiful Drawings by Damien Hirst and The Endless Study by Olafur Eliasson both demand the viewer’s input and fundamentally question the relationship between the viewer and the work of art. Whereas Eliasson starts out from a physical phenomenon, Hirst is interested in the question of the creator. Andreas Zybach’s tunnel construction 0–6,5 PS paints by means of the involuntary participation of the viewer; in Angela Bulloch’s Blue Horizon the machine only begins to draw in response to an external impulse; the two photocopiers that Steven Pippin combined in Carbon Copier (Anyway) only produce their “drawings” in delicate gradations of gray when the viewer presses both buttons simultaneously. Jon Kessler’s video installation Desert, by contrast, confronts us with sunsets just as incessantly as Tim Lewis’s Auto- Dali Prosthetic signs rolls of paper. Pawel Althamer’s Extrusion Machine (Bottle Machine) produces blasphemous plastic bottles; Antoine Zgraggen’s Großer Hammer Zerquetscherin (Crusher) helps the viewer dispose of unwanted objects; Tue Greenfort’s Mobile Trinkglaswerkstatt (Mobile drinking glass workshop) turns nonreturnable glass bottles into drinking glasses. Finally, the works by Lia ( http://www.isaidif.net/ ), Miltos Manetas ( http://www.jacksonpollock.org/ ), and Cornelia Sollfrank ( http://net.art-generator.com/ /) bring the “meta–art machine” of the World Wide Web into play, which, much like Tinguely’s work from the 1950s, is associated with a hope of a further democratization of the art world.
Art Machines Machine Art will be shown at the Museum Tinguely, Basel from 5 March to 29 June 2008.
LIST OF ARTISTS: Pawel Althamer, Michael Beutler, Angela Bulloch, Olafur Eliasson, Tue Greenfort, Damien Hirst, Rebecca Horn, Jon Kessler, Tim Lewis, Lia, Miltos Manetas, Roxy Paine, Steven Pippin, Cornelia Sollfrank, Jean Tinguely, Antoine Zgraggen, and Andreas Zybach.