Machines for Absurd Living—
STOREFRONTLAB / 2016
Curated by Arianne Gelardin.
Machines for Absurd Living are interactive tools that confront the audience with speculations of existential origin. By guiding the spectator on a journey through essential and consequential concepts—time, detachment, the self & the sublime—we pose the question of human existence. Art object translates into experience. The machines are a situational attempt to address individual dissonance over the absurdity of inherent meaning through simple interactions that prompt existential thought.
The first piece, MACHINE #1 / EXISTENTIAL LIFE CALCULATOR, addresses one of the most relentless of human struggles: our temporality in the physical world. Using statistical calculations, the machine determines how many hours one has left to live. Printing this conclusion on a receipt for the beholder, the machine prompts us to consider time as a currency to be well spent.
Once we are conscious of our physical limitations, we proceed to the next stage, where we are purged of unnecessary burdens. In MACHINE #2 / GUILT DECONSTRUCTION, the audience is confronted with a confession exercise: Using personal smart devices, the participant types out feelings of guilt, repressed desires, ill thoughts or wrong actions, and releases them—even through encrypted technology—with a cathartic physical gesture onto a wall projection. Collectively and through this exercise, we speculate a relief, a realization of the futility of ill conscience. We anticipate that this ‘action’ will establish a modern approach to absolution and provide the user with a way of resolving ill feelings into a healthier, conscious state. "Healthy remorse" is then deconstructed to the essence of language: letters, fall in a random shower, piling collective layers of guilt and contradiction.
After guilt catharsis occurs, MACHINE #3 / THE SELF-EYE addresses the question of the self. A performance of self-awareness presents the beholder with a reflection of his/her own organic tool for
ocular imagery: the iris. The self-examination room for such an exploration is equally intimate.
Finally, we included THE PANTHEISTIC CLOUD, as the last Machine and the closing element of the exhibit, communion with nature as the final step in becoming human.
The one month long exhibit presented performances every week that included:
1a. Dance Performance of ABECEDA, with poems by Vítezlav Nezval, typographic design by Karel Tiege and dance compositions by Milca Mayerová.
1b. Semantic Deviations: poems readings simultaneously in different languages.
1c. Absurd Screenings, a compilation of moments in cinema depicting Absurdism philosophy, collected by Jacob Daniel Palmer.