International Project for Low and High Technics in Contemporary Media Art

Critique of Pure Image – Between Fake and Quotation

A project of the Art Today Association
in collaboration with Code Flow
written and curated by Dimitrina Sevova


The Function of the Quotation.

“It was during the 18th century. An illusionist who was very erudite in the field of clockwork mechanisms created a robot. This robot was so perfect, his movements so supple and natural, that when the illusionist and his creature came out on the stage together, the spectators would be unable to distinguish who is the man and who is the robot. Then the illusionist found he had no choice but to mechanize his own gestures and, as the culmination of his art, somewhat to deteriorate his own appearance in order to give the show a sense, given that the spectators were very frightened at the fact that in the course of the show they could not understand who is the ‘real one.’ It was even better if they took the man for a machine, and the machine for a man.” – Parable, retold by Baudrillard in: The System of Things (1968).
The French movie director Jacques Tati proposes us a fragmented new picture of the world, constructed of chunks of fake nature, mechanized parts and fashion attributes of which the new urban spaces are formed. In this process the function of language as an act of speech is of no importance – a society in which communication is reduced to the sign or signal. Tati’s mechanized human beings, alienated, emulate the machines’ movements, while the machines become more human and talkatively associate with each other, such that at one point we indeed lose our ability to discern nature, or the human body, from the technicized world of the machines and the synthetic surfaces of the new materials.
In “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the cult movie by Stanley Kubrick that defined the taste of an entire generation of designers, artists and thinkers, the main computer of the spaceship traveling to Jupiter on a special mission, HAL, is faced with a situation that has not been foreseen when he was programmed: contradictory instructions. His task of fulfilling his secret mission collides with his main purpose of keeping the crew alive. Under the pressure of this contradiction, the machine can survive only if from rational it degenerates to emotional. In other words, HAL acquires human traits.

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art today lab 2005