Natasha Kidd / Rob Currie / Dan Hayes / Andrew Bracey / David Connearn / Emma Hart / Paul Goodfellow / Michael Roberts / Tim Knowles / Simón Granell / Eric Butcher
A Machine Aesthetic explores the various manifestations, uses and influences of mechanisation within the practice of a diverse range of contemporary artists.
From the first daubings of pre-historic caves, through the invention of the camera obscura and ready-made oil paint in tubes to the use of digital media, artists have been among the first to embrace and exploit new technologies. The focus of A Machine Aesthetic, however, is at once narrower and broader, concerning itself specifically with the notion and implications of âmechanisation' in its widest sense in contemporary art.
Early systems of mechanisation were modelled on human action and agency, emulating the ways in which human beings act and more recently, think. But it soon became apparent that better systems could be designed, systems which acknowledge and exploit the inherent characteristics of machine production, rather than bending the machine to mimic human behaviour. Indeed the relationship is now more dialogic, with our behavioural processes and methodologies owing as much to machine production as the machine owes to its human designers.
For a variety of reasons artists adopt a quasi-mechanised set of behavioural characteristics, disciplining their minds and bodies to act like machines. While mechanisation repeatedly renews its promise to be labour saving; freeing up time for the intellect, for some of these artists the labour is the point.
A fully mechanised method of artistic production tends toward reflexivity, where a consideration of those methods becomes both a means and an end in itself. By their very nature, art machines prompt consideration of the creative act; where and when does it occur? What is the relationship between the âproduct' and the âact'? However, contemporary art machine makers have become highly sophisticated practitioners, using machine production as a vehicle for the analysis of a range of issues.
Garageland 16: Machines features articles and essays about A Machine Aestheticand the participating artists. It is available from the Transition Gallery or our online shop.
A Machine Aesthetic is a National touring exhibition curated by Eric Butcher and Simón Granell.The exhibition is supported by Northumbria University/Arts University Bournemouth/University of Lincoln/Norwich University of the Arts/Transition Gallery, London and the Arts Council, England.