Mass Cultural Production


Jean Tinguely first exhibited his 'Meta-matics' in the late 1950s. Motorized contraptions that aided viewers in producing abstract drawings, they pulled the artist out of the immediate creative equation and simultaneously parodied both postwar technology's promise of automated utopia and the spontaneity of gestural abstraction. His work is the point of departure for an exhibition of artist-created automatons at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt through January 27. Art Machines Machine Art looks at machines designed by artists to produce art, as well as the various provocations and critiques of creative authority that they present. Some of the work reduces artistic production to the conveyor belt, such as Roxy Paine's 1998-2002 'SCUMAK No. 2' (that is, "Sculpture Maker" Number 2), which squirts out blobs of molten plastic that harden into unique, if lumpy, forms. Others shift responsibility for activating the work from the artist to the viewer, including Olafur Eliasson's elaborate Spirograph 'The Endless Study' from 2005. Machines that produce multiples diffuse the value of the art-product--make your own Damien Hirst with his paint-spinning device 'Making Beautiful Drawings' (2007) or watch Tim Lewis's 'Auto-Dali Prosthetic' (2000) sign the celebrity surrealist's name over and over--while others highlight the dislocation of the creative act made possible by the beb, such as Lia's 2007 'I Said If' and Miltos Manetas's online painting project. In addition to prodding at the notion of the artist as author, the projects all question where the actual work lies, asking whether machine or product really belongs in the gallery. Suggesting that the artist has become more like the composer than the musician, a performance of Gyorgy Ligeti's 1962 'Poeme Symphonique for 100 Metronomes,' which is literally performed by the time-keeping devices, accompanies the exhibition on October 24th.