ART AUTOMATA

Presenting Costis’ work in ART TOPOS was for us a great challenge. We would provide nothing new if we tried to depict his dynamically changing energy sculptures only with static imagery, as is usually done in exhibition catalogs.

The solution we chose to adopt was the use of relatively new technological developments in INTERNET, namely the use of Java. A brief look in the INTERNET catalogs has shown that the use of Java as a medium for conjectural expression is new. So, from this aspect, ART TOPOS has broken fresh ground. But it would be a mistake to consider our effort as a technical show, as one of the many gadgets bursting into our everyday life or, even worse, as a display of technical skills.

OrchestraOur intention was to mimic Art, to open up into the wonderful world of the Art automata, using other means, in another technological age. That is, we have tried to imitate Art by taking advantage of the self-evident concept that «the world born on the computer screen is not anymore a world of circles, squares or triangles but a world of movement, vortexes, dissociated edges, raveled clouds. It calls for a new geometry.»

...At the Neuchatel Arts and History Museum, there is work made by Pierre Jacques-Droz in 1744. Its title is «The Writer». Within it lies a hidden mechanism. On the exhibit’s catalog, this work is registered as «Automaton». When put in action, it imitates the movements made by an author writing a book.

...In a short text on musical automata we can read that their use can be traced back to the 8th century. The author of this text compares the rotating wooden or metallic barrel of these early automata with the punched cards of the early computers.

...The image on this page depicts a mechanical chamber orchestra, the favorite automaton of Queen Marie-Antoinette. It is now displayed at the Kyoto Arashiyama Orgel Museum in Japan, along with some other masterpieces of this kind.

...In London you can visit the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, an exhibition of contemporary automata, many of which are considered as Art objects.

All these mechanical crafts, as well as many others of more modest origin and use, such as the wooden jewelry boxes which, when opened, play some music and a mechanical ballerina forms its mechanical dancing figures, had no other intention but to mimic Art. The same applies to the big musical automata you can find mostly in Central European countries, trying to render the Art of Music through pistons, pipes and a predetermined program. Not to speak about the almost extinct street organs...

The ones and zeros arriving to your computer to depict Costis’ work do not claim for themselves the dignities of self-existent Art, at least no more than the big musical box that might still play in the streets if Munich or the small ballerina of the jewelry box with its awkward mechanical movements. «In depicting reality, the images created by the scientists cannot have, by definition, the same meaning or the same function as the ones created by an artist.»

Dimitris Scoufis


Quoted text is from Monique Sicard's article "Art et Science, la chute du mur?", in the book "Chercheurs ou Artistes?", ed. Autrement, 1995.


© ART TOPOS, 1996
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