Myriam Laplante gave a fantastic performance during the City of Women festival (well, that's what everybody says cuz i stupidly missed it, i arrived too late and just saw the video of the event this afternoon).

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The inspiration is Brothers Grimm’s tale The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids. A mother goat warns her kids to be wary of the wolf and leaves the house. Enters the wolf who claims to be their mother. The kids let him in, wolf tears apart the house, finds them and eats them all except the youngest, who was hiding in the clock.

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The mother returns, sees the crime scene, looks for nasty wolf and finds him sleeping. Something is struggling inside his stomach. Mother and the son cut him open, and the other six emerge alive.

Myriam's performance Lupus in Fabula turns the image of mother the saviour into mother the destroyer of the world she herself creates. There's no woolf but three big and lovely bears sleeping on the floor. She cuts them open, disembowels them and little robot bunnies emerge from the stomach (giving a new sense of purpose to all those Chinese toys banned from the European and US market) which is really cute and endearing... Until she grabs a big hammer, goes after the bunnies in the gallery and smashes them one after the other. When i went to the gallery today, everything was neat and peaceful, all traces of the massacre had disappeared apart from a small carpet that the artist had crafted using what was left of the bear fur.

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Video and more images. The remains of the tragedy are on view until October 13 at the Moderna galerija/Mala galerija in Ljubljana.

Sponsored by:





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Please meet Boutique Vizique! Boutique Vizique is Hendrik Leper and Stijn Schiffeleers, plus a bunch of other artists or experts they invite to collaborate with them once in a while.

Stijn and Hendrik come from Ghent. If you're into new media art, creativity and design you might have heard of that small-ish Belgian city. They trained as photographer, started working mostly with video, collaborated with sound artists and are now developing interactive installations. The kind we like: playful, witty and beautifully executed.

Portrait of Boutique Vizique by Koen Broos.

You both studied photography at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent, Belgium. How did you end up working on interaction design, reactive installations, performances using real time live generated images and sounds?

Boutique Vizique was originally intended to be a short-term venture. A few years after we had left the Academy, we decided to collaborate on a small video project which was supposed to last for two weeks. But two weeks became three, and this summer we are celebrating our seventh year as a collective. It has been a gradual growth and looking back reveals an organic development of our practice. Originally doing mainly video work for musicians, DJ's, opera singers, actors and dancers, we slowly made the transition to a more three-dimensional approach. We both look back at those early experiments with a blush on our face, but nevertheless we were able to let things sprout out of these early, naive try-outs.

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A Dustbunny

So from the beginning, it has been like hopping from one stone to another, leaving a zigzag trail of encounters, realizations and reactions. One project lead into another and we tried to remain open to all of it. Boutique Vizique is rooted in curiosity and its exploring nature also reflects our previous wanderings. It is clear that we both like to wander and, as a result, quite often find ourselves "off-track". Last October at Matchmaking, an annual festival for electronic arts and new technology in Trondheim, we structured our lecture around the thought of 'being lost'. Supported by a quote from Rebecca Solnit's essay 'A Field Guide to Getting Lost' we discussed the role of the unknown and open doors in the line of our work. We like to believe that, as artists and human beings, every time we feel lost, it gives us an opportunity to stumble upon something new. Slowly, step by step, we have mastered different tools which are not necessarily related, but always find an integration under the Boutique Vizique umbrella.

You often develop your piece with the collaboration of other people. How does the creation start? You get an idea and look for someone who has the skills that you need? Or you meet someone you'd like to work with and decide on a project together?

Throughout the years we have collaborated in various ways on a wide range of distinct projects. Some of these collaborations were pure technical and some emerged because other artists shared similar interests. Boutique Vizique germinated from a project with two DJ's and this collaborative aspect became a natural ingredient in our practice in those first years. A handful of music bands with complete different styles asked us to provide video projections for their concerts and we also worked closely with AIM Records, a small Ghent based independent label that gave us a lot of freedom in our creations.

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Os Gauchos do pelatao

To a certain level we were fine with just delivering a visually interesting backdrop, but simultaneously felt the urge to look for a more direct cross-pollination. 'Super Setup', 'Starbot Ensemble', 'Early Electronics' and 'Os Gauchos do pelatão' are four projects that grew out of the desire to come to a true collaboration where sound and video got completely interwoven. Around that time we also started working closely with other forms of performing arts and theater. We had to learn about the dynamic relation between story, performer and video; and various new ways of interaction were applied to finally come to a complete integration of all components.

A turnaround occurred at the moment we took time to convey our personal ideas independently and looked for a format that would fit our personal needs. After 3 years working in collaboration with performers we began to develop interactive installations autonomously, without any specific assignment and far away from any stage or other limitations. Following collaborations mainly arose mostly out of technical needs or the lack of certain skills. We involved other artists and engineers to create specific sections like a sound file, a printed circuit board or a piece of code.

Since then, people have been coming and going and it makes sense we will continue to work this way in the near future. After seven years we often run on autopilot mode when dealing with each other during certain stages of the development process. Having completed so many projects we understand, through a minimum of communication, where the other one wants to go and it all feels very natural that way.

You worked several times on installations for kids. What are the challenges and advantages of developing projects that are aimed to be enjoyed by children?

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Babble

Our older video and performance oriented work had been embedded with a decent amount of playfulness long before we made our first reactive sculpture. It seems that having this playful facet deeply rooted in our work made it almost inevitable not to develop projects specifically for children at some point. We never had an outspoken intention to do so, but also did not doubt a second at the moment we were asked to make a real time video choir for a children's music festival. Later on, we evaluated the pros and contras and from a brief look at the body of work following Babble, you can tell we enjoyed it. Seeing all those young faces light up every time we present our work is highly rewarding and it is this kind of appreciation that keeps us going I guess.

Challenges related to child and adult specific projects are often very similar. In fact we consciously endeavor to create installations that are intended to be enjoyed by both young and old. It is obvious that part of our plan is to awake the child in each one of us. And since play, poetry and simplicity are a constant in our work those challenges seem to overlap quite often. Any major difference probably revolves around the threshold of your interfaces. With children as a target group you cannot afford to make extreme subtle changes in your output. Everything needs to be more straightforward and responses from sensors must immediately cause an impact on the environment. Simultaneously the interface needs to induce an intuitive interaction and encourage participation without any instructions. Kids luckily do not need much of an explanation and often copy others to come to an understanding of what is going on.

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When working with children, you also might consider building everything a little stronger. The first version of our Dustbunnies, for example, got smashed under the weight of some kid, exactly two days after the opening. Five months of work only needed a 10 year old foot to flatten and short circuit every component inside of it. Funny thing is that Dustbunnies was never intended for a young audience, because otherwise we would not have created a shape that does resemble a soccer ball to such extend. We learned a lot from that experience and it is actually wonderful to have these limitations push your creativity to another level. How do you make a large swinging object that won't chop off some kids head? Try it, it's a great exercise!

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Dustbunny "fried"

Finding a satisfying balance between the experience for the child and our personal creative impulses is probably the most intriguing challenge every time we come up with a new installation. How do you create a situation that expresses your vision and simultaneously intrigues the children? You can hang big spheres in a space and project warped faces around them, but what reference does a child have to the elements you use? In order to keep the experience for everyone as open as possible, we intentionally never create a narrative. The circumstances we set up always require a certain level of communication, verbally or not, and multiple senses get stimulated at once. Every installation needs to be explored creatively and can be approached both as an individual or within a group. By steering these conditions we aspire to find a right balance for every child or at least something enjoyable for each one to be found.

The main advantage of developing installations for children is that in general they have less social boundaries. They are allowed to play and seem to connect easier with someone they don't know. It is also beautiful to see them sink into in the environment we set up and make them forget about the world around them. The greatest advantage of course is that we ourselves are still allowed to be kids. We can play as much as we want this way!

'Kontakt' and 'Stopkontakt' invite the audience to use their body as a conductor between electrical circuits. How did you get the idea to work on that piece? How did the public react to it? Did you observe any unexpected behavior?

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Image by Lies Declerck

Kontakt was conceived during workshop, called Media Knitting, at DEAF 2003, the Dutch Electronic Art Festival in Rotterdam. This is where we met Karmen Franinovic, who at that point was getting her Master's degree at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in Italy. The workshop was set up so people with different tool sets could possibly connect and collaborate. Karmen was working on a custom-made pressure sensor using conductive foam and we had just received our first Teleo module. We combined both components and a bit later we were all holding hands to test how conductive our bodies actually were. Kontakt was born and we constructed a prototype version in the stairwell within the three-story building of V2. Bright orange metal plates, with hands painted on them, encouraged visitors to use their bodies and form a human chain between them. Several of these active touch points where spread throughout the space and connecting caused a set of sound and video sequences to be played. The interface required people to collectively explore the space, as it was impossible for a single visitor to make connection between the various points. Holding hands, kissing and using differently conductive objects to modulate the output all became part of the interaction. The human skin and body, mobile and unpredictable, became the sensor and the actuator of this active space.

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A few months later we were commissioned to create an installation for the Happy New Ears Festival in Kortrijk, Belgium. The location was a formerly blocked off part of the directors house in an old textile factory. The space was submerged in a gloomy atmosphere as it had been collecting dust for more then a decade. The setting itself was too impressive to ignore and we had the Kontakt concept ready to unfold. Inspired by the space, we developed Stopkontakt, meaning wall outlet in Dutch, in a very site specific format.

Four rooms and the grand central stairway got wired up, filled with touch points, speaker and data cable. As an output we picked various analogue objects, like a kitschy pendulum clock, some plastic bird flutes, a water dripping valve, an old record player and more junk.

Although the system is very simple, it remains surprising to most visitors that you can start a coffee grinder with a handshake. Questions from parents about possibly getting shocked or failing pacemakers pop up regularly. While the grown-ups look and try to figure out how it all work, the kids do not seem to bother and just go wild holding hands, feet and knees with friends, family and complete strangers.

What are you trying to achieve with Tortuga? Do you plan to develop the project further?

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Tortuga is another good example of how Boutique Vizique functions as a learning place. The technical part of it originates from a class on PCB design and microchip programming I took last year. Its circuit board is drafted to contain an ultrasonic transceiver and a Zigbee module in order to measure the distance between two objects without any other external hardware involved. From this pure technical starting point it has grown out to a personal research project and Tortuga is actually an extended prototype for a larger installation that has been put on hold for various reasons. Its concept is formed around creating several large mobile structures and the ability to move these objects throughout a space, dependent on their acceleration and their physical location. It is one of those projects that could have stayed half finished in a closet for the rest of our life, but when curator Virgil Pollit asked us to be part of a group show called 'Fertile Grounds', we decided to continue and build some iceberg structures around the already functioning mechanical basis.

000acicbeorg.jpgWhen I fantasize about the full-scale version I see some undefined objects being moved around by a group of people in a free-flowing way. The motion is smooth and will only be interrupted if a sudden push occurs or in case the objects come within a minimal distance to each other or a wall. All visitors have to collaborate to generate a fluent movement and I am into the idea of using a loud sound or earplugs to prevent the audience from communicating verbally. I guess with Tortuga I am looking for new forms of interaction and ways to provoke pleasures similar to the one I get from moving rocks in a river. The 'useless' act of relocating random objects within a limited space, knowing they will move again once you have left, fascinates me. Still, while moving river rocks might result in a sculpture or a structure, Tortuga consciously tries to avoid any logic result or outcome. Although never choreographed, it will probably end up looking more like a dance than a sculpture at certain moments. The installation becomes an engine for a performance.

Showing the first version of Tortuga in a gallery environment has taught me a few lessons. Although the exhibition resulted in some fruitful conversations and animated interactions, it certainly was too early to present this work to a larger audience. As an artist you can not expect visitors to jump right into your fantasy world. They need a grip, something that guides them through your brain. Leaving them clueless just resulted in an uncomfortable situation and my hopes for now, Tortuga is buried in our closet again. Maybe its dream will be picked up again some day.

Can you explain us what Beat Blocks is about? And what makes it particularly exciting for you?

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Beat Blocks is the result of a series of encounters with Jeff Hoefs. After I moved to San Francisco, Jeff became one of the new people in my life with whom I like to share my thoughts and dreams about physical computing. One day we decided to challenge ourselves with the design of a tangible interface that could function as a sequencer and would cost less than 300 dollars. After some initial tinkering the idea of using wooden blocks on a grid popped up and the next meeting we spend brainstorming about all possible ways to read out the different values using a relatively cheap technology. Our thoughts grew out to a project and at this point we have a functioning prototype and are in the midst of developing a second and extended version. So the way this project originated, without any request or budget from the outside world, is already pretty exciting to me.

Most fascinating about the interface is its simplicity. A wooden grid and a series of blocks form an uncomplicated interface that is completely self-explanatory. As a user you can create and manipulate a small sound loop by physically re-arranging the wooden blocks within the grid. Doing so will turn the matrix into a rhythm sequencer that operates at a 1/16 note resolution. Each block has a pattern of colored stripes representing 1/4 measures, directly indicating what kind of sequence the underlying system will play. The sequence runs in a continuous loop and a LED indicates the speed of the loop that can be changed by means of a simple slider. The direct relation between these minimal visual aspects and the instantaneously generated sound makes 'Beat Blocks' very accessible to anyone, even with little or no musical background. Since the whole system generates a MIDI output, it can be hooked up to a lot of other hardware devices.

Another exciting feature is that its unsophisticated first design can be further developed in numerous directions. The layout of the PCB allows us to connect multiple grids simultaneously and the magnetic connectors could be build into any other shape. Its flexibility enables Beat Blocks to be used for very different purposes and various situations. It could be part of an interactive museum display and so far we have plans for constructing 'Beat Blocks' both as a performance tool and as an installation. The possibilities that our basic structure offers have also seem to inspire other people. A while ago, for example, we read on a blog a comment by a visually impaired person who was wondering if the striped pattern actually could be perceived by touch. A wonderful thought and the question actually motivated us to include this facet in our next version. It also got us both excited about creating a 'Beat Blocks' blog to share our ideas and be open to suggestions for potential variations.

You are both from Belgium right? How does the country or your region support your work? Do some of your pieces get financed? Do you receive many opportunities to teach and show your work?

Continue reading the interview with Boutique Vizique.

Will Work For Food is a project about labour and barter economy. The bread earner is a robot able to draw and whistle “Happy Birthday? and “The Internationale?.

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To enjoy those precious services, all you have to do is pack some food (no money!) and send it to a given address. The WWFF vehicle will be posted to you in return.

I asked KH Jeron to tell us more about this idea:

When and how did you get the idea to set up the "Will Work For Food" service?

Before I started with WWFF I built a robot which did drawings for 7.50 € per hour. This was my contribution to the allgirls gallery Christmas exhibition last year.

I wanted to combine utopian ideas of the 50s and 60s of the 20th century which yearned for the liberation of humanity from any form of labour and the discussion about minimum wage in Germany.

The vehicle's batteries lasted for about 5 hours. So each drawing was sold for 37.50€. After that success, I thought again and decided to do a project where necessarily no money has to be involved. It was in January this year.

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Photo credits, Labor K1: Jana Linke & Juliane Zelwies

Given the feedback you got from "Will Work For Food", do you think that this idea of labour and barter economy could be pushed further and be a bigger part of our economy?

Well, i have never thought about of the barter model of wwff as a bigger part of our economy. There are already very successful marketplaces for cashless business like the largest free barter site or the former ubarter, now called itex in the USA. They say that itex processes over $250 million a year in transactions across 24,000 member businesses and 95+ franchisees and licensees.

WWFF is more about value and trust.
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What was the most unexpected food present ever sent to you?

Just the day before yesterday I received seven different glasses of homemade marmalade.

Can you tell us a few words about the robot itself? What's the technology you used?

Each of the vehicles is equipped with a ballpoint pen and loudspeakers. The melodies are stored on a micro controller which also
operates the speakers and the randomized movements of the motor.

I prefer to use servo motors, if they are cheap. Otherwise I use standard dc motors with a L293 (see PDF) as a h-bridge driver. The microcontroller is a PIC12F683 from microchip.

The main goal was to build a cheap robot (< 10€). It also has to be light and small. I can send it for 4.50 € all over Europe and for 8 € worldwide.

Thanks KH!

Last episode of the Biorama day in Huddersfield where Capsula and the Digital Research Unit had invited artists to present the way their work explores and blends notions of life, science and digital realities.

Biorama (Part 1) + Biorama (Part 2)

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France Cadet, just back from an interesting-looking conference about theatre and robotics held in the framework of the 61st Festival d'Avignon, explained how she hacked robot dogs (she used I-Cybie which doesn't come with a software like the Aibo, therefore re-programming the robot is a long and complex process) and turned them into transgenic and chimerical animals inspired by the advances of (bio)technology, in particular cloning experiments. Each robot raises questions about possible accidents, animal and human behaviour, artificialisation of life, side effects of cloning, dangers of xenotransplantation, etc.
Video

COPYCAT is half dog, half cat. It is independent and clean like a cat while being affectionate and playful like a dog. The robot was inspired by "Cc" the first kitten cloned in December 2001 at Texas A&M university. The breakthrough has made it possible to clone your favourite dying or dead pet and to produce a pet "à la carte".

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DOLLY has a more complex origin, half of it is a dog, then it is 30% ewe, 15% cow and a tiny portion of sheep. The dog is named after Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned in 1996. Both sheep and bovines specimens have encountered difficulties for their cloning: BSE: Mad Cow Disease, Progeria, premature ageing (because her donor sibling was six years old when the genetic material was taken from her, Dolly may have been genetically six years old at birth), abnormal size and various pathologies. This species aims to cure all the side effects of cloning and deterioration of DNA. However, not everything went according to plans and the dog-cow is suffering from BSE and eventually dies on its little pad of artificial grass.

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GFP PUPPY had just 1% of Green Fluorescent Protein gene transferred into its genome. GPF is present at the natural state in jellyfish, and commonly used to mark the cells. In this case, the gene gave the dog a phosphorescent coat. After the fluorescent mouse and Eduardo Kac's Alba rabbit. "GFP Puppy" marks the beginning of a new age of animal cloning, that of more evolved and complex species.

XENODOG is half dog, 45% pig and has also 5% Nude gene.
While the pig is smart and sociable enough to make the perfect pet, it is also the best species to supply organs for xenotransplantations. XENODOG has also the same genetic defect as the nude mouse that prevents him from growing hair and from immunologically rejecting human cells and tissues.

JELLYDOGGY. This genetic mutant is 90% dog with 5% jellyfish and 5% chameleon. 0aaschizof.jpgIts genome has been enhanced with the gene of a hydrozoan (jellyfish family) as well as the gene of the chameleon, well known for blending in with his environment. This peculiarly enables him to adapt to an aquatic life.

SCHIZODOG has worryingly been "enhanced" with 25% Dr. Jekyll genes and 25% of Mr. Hyde.
The cloning experiment helps increase our understanding of psychological disorders such as multiple or split personality disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenic disorder... it also makes us aware of genetic influence on the psychology of twins, Siamese twins and clones. The study of the two headed dog may suggest promising forms of treatment and perhaps, in the near future, may help predict the outcome of several mental illnesses.

Along with the dog genes, the FLYING PIG is 40% pig, and has 5% nude and 5% human genes.

Inspired by Stelarc's extra ear, Symbiotica's Pig Wings and the nude mouse with a human ear attached onto its back. Initialy designed to serve as a model for tissue and cartilage engineering and to replace a missing or malfunctioning part of the body, those ear-wings prosthesis, made out of muscles, soft tissue and flexible cartilage, can actually enhance the body's fonctions. From now on reconstructive surgery belongs to the past, time has come for augmented surgery.

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The last presentation of the day was from etoy agent Marcos who briefly recalled TOYWAR the most successful performance of the group. Toy retailer eToys.com sued etoy for having a similar domain name to their own (etoy.com.) They first offered incresingly big sums of money to get the domain and when they realized it wasn't to sell, they decided to launch a rather dirty legal battle. After several weeks, a market capitalization loss of $4.5 billion dollars, eToys dropped the lawsuit and the etoy website returned to operation.

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But Marcos was mostly there to talk about MISSION ETERNITY, an ultra long term project started by etoy.CORPORATION in 2005. Its theme is the cult of the dead in the digital age, its chore idea is to create a digital portrait and make it eternal it through a p2p system and its main pilar is the arcanum capsule.
Video summary.

The ARCANUM CAPSULE is reserved for charismatic pioneers of the information age: the M∞ PILOTS (the process can not be offered to the broad public yet as it is too artistically intense, expensive, and requires the participation of a whole range of trained etoy.AGENTS). So far only 2 TEST PILOTS are in the pipeline (microfilm pioneer Sepp Keiser and writer Timothy Leary).

The M∞ ARCANUM CAPSULES contain digital fragments of the life and "soul�? of the USERS and enable them to maintain a presence post mortem as data particles hosted in the shared memory of hundreds of networked computers and mobile devices such as cell phones of the so-called M∞ ANGELS, people who contribute a part of their digital storage space to the project. As long as humanity exists and people are connected, the memory will be preserved.

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M∞ BRIDGES

Now how can you make the remains eternal in a more tangible way? By having them enter some art institution through physical artefacts. They would get from the family ash once the pilot has died and incorporate it into sculptures called M∞ BRIDGES that link physical and memory spaces as well as life and death. Innovative technology and artistic quality might appeal to art collections, libraries and museums. Conservation would thus be outsourced to protected environments and experts financed by governments, foundations and private collectors. The ash of the deceased would be mixed with cement and then used as dead pixel on the big screen inside the sarcophagus.

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M∞ TERMINUS

The first series of M∞ BRIDGES are dominated by visual output (SARCOPHAGUS and MISSION CTRL) and close to traditional art forms. The second series will be based on antenna principles: broadcasting radio signals (voices of M∞ PILOTS), WLAN, Bluetooth and cell phone content. They will introduce a new generation of public interactive art.

Today's easy reading:

Robbits, by Susanna Hertrich and Matthias Melitzki, aims to explore emotional qualities of interactive objects by inviting a human audience to interact play with »electronic creatures«. Robbits works as an installation consisting of a community self- and location-aware mobile robots.

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Video, via bunnylicious.

Let's rabbit: PCBunny, The Coniglio Hat, myBio bunny, A field of inflatable rabbits, This must be designed by idiot.

misssalazar.jpgLast month i was in Colombia for (and thanks to) the Pixelazo festival.

I then asked Alejandro Tamayo if he could point me to any artist worth meeting in Bogota. Several names came to his mind but when i had a look at the images of Adriana Salazar's machines, i just said "Stop! Stop! no more names, how can i get to meet her?" How could i not want to know more about a girl who creates delicate and elegant (but slightly ludicrous) machines that smoke, tie shoes, pull thread through the hole of a needle, relentlessly measure walls, switch the light on and off, on and off, on and off, dust walls, cry while another one dries its tears, etc.

What is your background? How did you start creating machines? Is "machine" the correct word to describe them by the way?

I studied fine arts at the Jorge Tadeo Lozano University, here in Bogota. At the very end of my career, just when I was starting to develop my last academic project, I came to the encounter of moving devices, by chance, or maybe because I just couldn’t stand stillness. After that I decided to work with a more specific kind of movement: human actions that are performed repeatedly and without any awareness of what happens to the body meanwhile. I started thus with smoking, as an action with a very complex body movement involved. The idea of isolating this action, from its context, resulted in a sort of “machine-like object?, but with the exact opposite functions a machine would usually perform: it just had no purpose, no practical value. Besides, the object that resulted was rather clumsy, simple and almost hand-made, so there is no fancy technological operations involved, and no industrial mass-produced object as a result of the process. The word machine seems then incorrect, in that sense.

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Mademoiselle, Máquina fumadora (Smoking machine)

What fascinates you in the absurd and the useless?

The fact that it is precisely through the absurd and the useless that we can really get to understand what us humans are like: we can perform coherent and beautiful actions that still have no purpose. The purpose of our actions, or even better, their ends, somehow always escapes our comprehension, and yet we keep moving and doing things. It is fascinating then to see, as in a distorted mirror in front of us, what we do, but without our presence: just the action repeating itself over and over.

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Porristas

What is your relationship with the machines you create? Do you see them as mere objects for galleries or do you develop a more personal relationship with them?

There is something I really like about them: Their design is always the result of very simple mechanical or physical processes, and it is conceived by the mind of an amateur: There is no engineering or high-tech involved. The result is therefore a very personal interpretation of a movement, so it turns to be more an expressive device than a robot or an automatic appliance.

On the other hand there are a couple of pieces that work very well with galleries, but not because they look good in them or because they are commercial. Both the smoking machine (Mademoiselle) and the careless machines (the ones that start making a toast, and end up drunk and unsynchronized) invert the social roles of the actors in an exhibition opening: When the guests drink and smoke while looking at the art pieces, these two art pieces drink and smoke while looking back at their beholders.

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Máquina desempolvadora and La desaparición de las necesidades

How do you develop them? On your own? or do you collaborate with someone else to build up the technical elements?

The whole process of designing and building these objects is rather interesting. I am becoming first of all very comfortable with the fact that they are created in sort of a naïve way. I need to understand what is going on in there, and I need the viewer to do so too, so I tend to avoid complex operations or technological novelties that could leave you just amazed and overwhelmed. Nevertheless, I have always had the support of people that obviously know how to do certain things better than me, especially concerning working with metal or other industrial materials that require special instruments. The rest is just small disco ball motors working!

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Máquina que intenta amarrar un zapato (Machine that tries to tie shoes)

Are your works a comment on technology, human beings or their relationship to technology? Maybe all of those?

Certainly all of those. I am not a moralist towards technology, but I love to show its ironic side, I love to laugh at the fact that we truly believe technology is progress, and that it is eventually going to save our lives: in my pieces there is always something that remains incomplete, some sort of imperfection that becomes an effective part of the work. It is as if our actions as well as our machines were always failing to succeed their task. Maybe what humanizes our technological world isn’t its tendency to boost human form or function, but its constant failure, its fragility.

There is in fact one of my pieces that is actually a “trying machine?, a machine that makes an effort and always fails (machine that tries to thread a needle): it is small, modest, and stubborn as a man.

Is there any artists that has influenced you or that you particularly appreciate the work of?

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I know I should probably be bringing influential figures here, such as Rebecca Horn or Jean Tinguely, or even Stelarc or Wim Delvoye. I discovered that the artists I love the most are those who are completely alien to my processes and those whose work is most disturbing and uncomprehensible. In the research process for my last piece “llorona? (crying woman), for example, I rediscovered some fascinating Man Ray pictures, and I fell in love with Hans Haacke’s Condensation Cube. I also truly related to this last piece in the sense that it is very complex, theatrically complex almost, and at the same time it is the simplest thing of all!!!

What is the reaction of the public when they see your art pieces?

I’ve seen all kinds of reactions. I like the fact that this kind of things tend to escape the discursive, enclosed, and elitist approach to contemporary art. I like, for example, when people laugh at them or when they become interested in how they work or in how they relate to certain human experiences. I had once a group of industrial design students that came with a very unexpected and interesting approach, from the designer’s point of view. I had never thought of my work as design, but I understood that definitely design played a very strong role in it: The human being is able to redesign its body and modify it to perform a certain function, and artists are mostly perception and body designers. I owe this discovery to the input from the public.

Thanks Adriana!

All images courtesy of Adriana Salazar.

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