I am jet lagged and very likely to be rambling here.
Kate sent me some footage from The Secret Life of Machines, which I subsequently followed thru to find more episodes/fragments of the same 80s TV series with Tim Hunkin. Can’t say I ever watched it at the time but the stuff on the actual mechanics of everyday technologies is pretty interesting – like some kind of more brainy Scrapheap Challenge. The photocopier one, for example, has pretty great stuff on early/diy attempts at document copying – hugely laborious and often involving wet and dry processes akin to photo-development. Made me think these last few days about the technologies that replicate on the one hand (turning a physical object into another physical object, often with an intermediate stage), and technologies which effectively mediate things from one form or media to another – like scanners or samplers. Wondering vaguely if there’s a marker moment in technological development where the problem “how can i get another physical object like this one?” gets temporarily superseded by the problem “how can i get this physical object into a non-physical (digital) form?”. Something about the physical object being a nuisance and just wanting to have it digital… like ‘great, but how the fuck can i get *that * onto my computer?” Probably in fact the dynamic thing is about the process of constant translation backwards and forwards between realms – physical and non-physical, two dimensional and three dimensional.
Thinking now of the Gelatin project Tantamounter 24/7 I heard about way back – a closed space in which the artists were based, working continuosly for a period of days with various kinds of equipment and materials. Visitors could bring to the window of this space any item they wanted copied and within a specified time period a copy of some kind would be made using only those materials and processes the artists had available to them inside the gallery.
The “Tantamounter 24/7” is a gigantic, complex and very clever machine. It’s like a huge huge Xerox copy machine, only bigger and more clever. The friendly customer places their personal objects, ideas, smells on one of the entry ports and after a short analysis will be informed of the time it will take to produce the copy.
The “Tantamounter 24/7” can scan two and three-dimensional objects, analyze their flavours, ideas, concepts and contents. As a clever machine it can not just copy or duplicate objects, but of course be tantamount to them. Due to its complex emotional circuitry one will never know how the “Tantamounter 24/7” will reflect the input. After the announced waiting time the input object and its duplicate will be ejected through the exit slot. The working mechanism behind “Tantamounter 24/7” is some completely hardwired intense individual agents operating day and night under close supervision of a bankrupt psychiatrist.
“I don’t even like art..”
Jacob Wren posted a link to a great set of 1986 interview fragments by David Hammons. By coincidence, and looping back to the copying theme, Vlatka and I saw an unofficial (and unauthorised) retrospective of his work a couple of years back which so far as I can recall consisted only of photocopies or replicas of his works.