Friday, January 25, 2008

I am a text machine

“Kunstmaschinen, Machinenkunst” / “Art Machines, Machine Art”

I am a text machine, [command: producing] machine text.

I am given a frame, no color allowed. I have been given a recommendation of more or less 4500 signs, as if I were restricted in my metaphors. Signs? Yes, signs. In German, we count signs (including space), in English, we count words. The word count being, in this case, some 1006 words, which would explain why we like our words smaller in English as bigger ones do not necessarily pay the rent.

Handwritten, the article poses the problem of counting signs including space. I resort to old new habits: the computer is the magic machine.

Pop-up window like a light bulb in my head, I resort to plug-and-chug: an old mathematical trick learned in the 5th grade, which would help me input the things I have seen into the translation machine, input the visuals of this show “Machine Art, Art Machines,” downloading my memory into yours. In the browser’s departure lounge, we find Jean Tinguely and his Mèta-Matics, a number of them, in fact, portable painting machines made in 1959 (figure 5), a fitting companion though not a part of, the great critiquing machine of Guy Debord and the Situationist International. As the geistige kin to Guiseppe Pinot-Gallizio’s Industrial Painting (1958), which was produced and sold by the meter (which has no relation to texts produced and sold by the word or sign, mind you), we find Angela Bulloch’s Blue Horizon (1990), a wall-painting which is produced with the metric pressure exerted by one’s derrière. Steven Pippin’s one-track-mind machine, Carbon Copier (Anyway) (2007), produces narcissistic copies of itself, a Xerox machine making self-portraits of its twin, two machines squished together, face-maker to face-maker (this is a when-in-doubt-play-with-your-bellybutton machine); whilst Jon Kessler’s man-made Desert (2005) is not exactly what it seems. You think it’s just found footage of a desert played on a messy stack of TVs until you realize that the odd contraption on top is actually a handmade device which simulates a virtual desert. Say that again: can something be handmade and virtual at the same time? Yes.

Programming error G82236. Not enough space to continue processing your document.

The brief attempt at producing a machine text subjectively has here met with a mechanistic rebellion against my wishes to produce a product, to feed the text machine that produces a text. The computer is no longer my instrument, it is now my slave. It shall be relegated to doing the work for me. I will plunder her gully for word-fodder. Online, I connect with a central computer somewhere out there with the help of a mouse. An anagram machine found at a random address gives me x-ways of saying Kunst Maschinen [Art Machines] or Kunst “Machinen” to mingle languages in a mixed up way and to admit to minor flaws of a missing “s.” Not even Word could catch and underline that error for Word is not bilingual, or at least not yet. Should I happen to be in doubt as to my own ability to paraphrase what has already been said, the anagram machine begins, ironically, with “Nickname Hunts”; opposed to this sudden sympathy from the machine at my mercy, I find “Nickname Shunt” much better applied to the sentiment still at hand; however, “Unmeant Chinks” might serve as a rightful reference to the interruption of the imput of this article, or “Ante Munchkin” if I wanted to up the ante in the munchkin amount of material imputed thus far; or rather, I might prefer my munchkins clean and well-dressed, i.e., “Neat Munchkins” for a bit of progressive procrastination; which would not be to deny the rightful distraction of watching “A Munchkins Ten,” Spielberg’s prequel to “A Munchkin Nest,” a much better title than the executive producer preferred, “A Munchkins Net,” which tacitly alluded to a little-used chatroom for short people on the Web; “Oh, ‘Manhunt Sicken,’ I am!” screamed the frustrated screenplay writer who slammed the door behind her in a flurry of fury leaving a wind of mystery behind her; surely she’d meant to say “Unmans Thicken” in reference to the new diet craze which gave great solace to the lonely women in Manhattan with only gay friends, but, “Oh no,” corrected a feminist friend, “What she meant to say was ‘Unmans Kitchen,’ no doubt, especially when you look at all the ‘Camera Hints’ going on around here, yes, unabashedly that Mulveyian Gaze has made its comeback and the prevention of the invention of the ‘Cameras Thin’ is not just another chocaholics conspiracy theory”; the secretary who was taking the minutes of the meeting penned in the margin, witty thing that she was, “Arcane Smith” until the “Chairman Set” a “Charisma Net” whisking her away from her daydream word-smith wizardry.

You have just witnessed an experiment of neo-science using only 16 anagrams of some 6071 possibilities.

The machine is not less creative than the writer behind it. A text based on anagrams is not more objective than a subjective text on “Art Machines, Machine Art.” Think tank: the computer was the first machine in which memory could be purchased and stored, expanded upon by consumption. Memory traveled with floppy discs: a poetic ideal indeed. The databank of an art show now has an additional external memory, here expressed in an impossible file merger of QuickTime hardcopy (patent pending).

To conclude: if the artist can disappear behind the machine, can the writer who has been asked to write about this disappearance disappear too? A double-disappearance? Such a phenomenon has been known to happen quite often in the Southern Hemisphere – when, for instance, a man “is disappeared” in 1970, found in 1980, and then “is disappeared” in 1990 again. The passive tense “is disappeared” became common parlance under the regime of Pinochet, who knew that the best way to terrorize your enemy was to “have him disappeared,” quietly, mysteriously, no bombs, no bloodshed necessary. Unlike the artists who just “disappeared” (active tense) in a boat (Bas Jan Ader) or just took some time-off and “disappeared from New York” (Lee Lozano), or the artists who disappear behind the machine, the writer of this article would be disappeared (active-passive, who knew?) behind an anagram:


A Liberal Math Elm Zip

(April Elizabeth Lamm)



printer error: A machine is not just a machine. A Miele is not a Whirlpool, I beg your pardon.

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