by Ken Feingold on May 07, 1997 at 21:11:42:
In Reply to: The aesthetics of electromechanical failure posted by Ken Goldberg on April 30, 1997 at 22:09:01:
: On page 12 of Ken Feingold's inspirational MOMA lecture
: he describes how the robots in his "where I can see
: my house from here so we are" installation
: began to break down, running in circles and losing their voices etc.
: This reminds a bit of Tinguely's Homage to NY at MOMA, where the
: entire construction fell apart and caught fire on opening night.
: Alan Rath spoke at Berkeley recently and I asked why all the wires
: are always so neat and clean. His answer is that this is the best
: way to make sure his machines keep working.
: It seems a majority of technology artists share the aesthetic of
: exposing loose wires and gears etc. that evokes a
: Blade-Runner-esque sense of chaos. And they often
: treat electromechanical failure as symbolic of industrial hubris.
: One surprising thing to me is how well industrial machines work
: in the real world, often 24 hours a day under an incredible range
: of conditions. Like Borofsky's hammering men, these machines
: continue unfazed for years on end. Perhaps there is an
: equally interesting aesthetics of electromechanical reliability.
What I meant to evoke was not "the aesthetic of exposing loose wires
and gears...", but rather, the beautiful pathos of the puppets as they
became "disobedient". With the exception of the umbilical cable and
the video-camera-eye in that particular work, I have always stayed away
from presenting the functional electronics of the work except, as in this
work, they provide specific elements of signicance to communicating my
It's when "reliabile" comes to mean "no questions asked" that prompts
artists to challenge the fixed values of The Religion of the Reliable,
i.e., global capital & consumer culture.