Special Issue "The Machine as Art (in the 20th Century)"

A special issue of Arts (ISSN 2076-0752). This special issue belongs to the section "Visual Arts".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Ms. Juliette Bessette

Guest Editor
PhD candidate, Centre André Chastel, Université Paris-Sorbonne, Galerie Colbert, 2 rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris, France
Interests: 20th-century art history; machine; science; technology; future studies; pop art
Mr. G. W. Smith
Website
Editorial Assistant
Founder, Space Machines Corporation, 3443 Esplanade Avenue, Suite 438, New Orleans, LA 70119, USA
Interests: art; arts and technology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The machine, over the course of the 20th century, progressively integrated itself into all fields of human activity, including artistic creation; and indeed, with the first decades of that century having established a surprisingly vital and wide-ranging series of perspectives on the relationship between art and the machine, certain artists in the wake of the second world war no longer felt compelled to treat the machine as a mere theme or source of inspiration: the machine itself becomes art—unless it is art which seeks to become mechanical?

The artist mutates into artist-engineer; and this transition, resonating within a specific historical context, leads not only to a questioning of the nature of the work itself, but also to a broader questioning which places us within the realm of anthropology: what is this art telling us about the actual conditions of contemporary human society and what is it telling us about the future to which we aspire?

It is the goal of this special issue of Arts to stimulate an historically conscious, protean, and global (re)thinking of the cultural relationship between man and machine; and to this end, we welcome contributions falling anywhere within the nearly infinite spectrum represented by the prismatic period during the middle of the last century in which the machine became a legitimate artistic medium.

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La machine, au cours du XXe siècle, s’est progressivement constituée en élément majeur de notre civilisation jusqu’à véritablement s’intégrer à tous les domaines de l’activité humaine, création artistique comprise. Après que les premières décennies de ce siècle ont ouvert un large et stimulant champ de réflexion sur le rapport entre l’art et la machine, dans l’après seconde guerre mondiale, certains artistes ne considèrent plus cette machine comme un simple thème ou une source d’inspiration: ils font art de la technologie—à moins que ce ne soient les œuvres d’art qui deviennent, en elles-mêmes, machines?

L’artiste se mue en «artiste-ingénieur» et ce tournant fondamental, mis en résonance avec son contexte historique spécifique, entraîne une interrogation sur la nature-même de l’œuvre d’art. Elle débouche également sur un questionnement plus large, d’ordre anthropologique: que les œuvres d’art nous apprennent-elles sur la condition humaine qui nous est contemporaine, et sur celle à laquelle nous aspirons?

A travers ce numéro spécial d’Arts, nous souhaitons stimuler une réflexion rétrospective, protéiforme et libre permettant de (re)penser, de manière globale, la relation culturelle de l’homme à la machine. Pour ce faire, nous accueillons toute contribution explorant les différentes facettes du prisme infini reflétant les rapports établis entre la création artistique et la machine (en tant que médium) au cours de la période charnière du milieu du siècle dernier.

Ms. Juliette Bessette
Guest Editor

Note: This Special Issue is a companion to The Machine as Artist (for the 21st Century), Dr. Frederic Fol Leymarie, Guest Editor; and in addition, the reader is directed a summary article covering both Special Issues, Trends and Anti-Trends in Techno-Art Scholarship: The Legacy of the Arts "Machine" Special Issues.

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Arts is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • art
  • machine
  • science
  • technology
  • machine aesthetics
  • systems aesthetics
  • 20th century art history

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Open AccessEditorial
Accepting the Machine: A Response by Liliane Lijn to Three Questions from Arts
Arts 2018, 7(2), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts7020021 - 11 Jun 2018
Abstract
Celebrated techno-art pioneer Liliane Lijn—whose participation in the landmark 1970 London “Kinetics” exhibition at the newly opened Hayward Gallery was but a waypoint in a long and adventurous career, and whose work is represented in the collections of Bern’s Kunstmuseum, MoMA, and Tate—has [...] Read more.
Celebrated techno-art pioneer Liliane Lijn—whose participation in the landmark 1970 London “Kinetics” exhibition at the newly opened Hayward Gallery was but a waypoint in a long and adventurous career, and whose work is represented in the collections of Bern’s Kunstmuseum, MoMA, and Tate—has prepared this essay on the evolution of machine art in response to three questions from G.W. Smith and Juliette Bessette of Arts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Art (in the 20th Century))
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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Communication Machines as Art
Arts 2019, 8(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8010022 - 09 Feb 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The paper presents a personal history of making machines as artworks. The particular kind of art machines that have been made since around 1970 are communication machines: ones that enable humans to interact with each other. However, they do not provide communication in [...] Read more.
The paper presents a personal history of making machines as artworks. The particular kind of art machines that have been made since around 1970 are communication machines: ones that enable humans to interact with each other. However, they do not provide communication in the normal sense, but use a small bandwidth for relatively complex connections, making the experience of the interactions the art experience. The paper concludes by explaining how it later became possible to use computer networking and the Internet to make artworks that were more complex and, in part, autonomous generative machines whilst retaining the earlier communication machine functions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Art (in the 20th Century))
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Open AccessArticle
Survival Research Laboratories: A Dystopian Industrial Performance Art
Arts 2019, 8(1), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8010017 - 29 Jan 2019
Abstract
This paper examines the leading role played by the American mechanical performance group Survival Research Laboratories (SRL) within the field of machine art during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and as organized under the headings of (a) destruction/survival; (b) the cyborg as [...] Read more.
This paper examines the leading role played by the American mechanical performance group Survival Research Laboratories (SRL) within the field of machine art during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and as organized under the headings of (a) destruction/survival; (b) the cyborg as a symbol of human/machine interpenetration; and (c) biomechanical sexuality. As a manifestation of the era’s “industrial” culture, moreover, the work of SRL artists Mark Pauline and Eric Werner was often conceived in collaboration with industrial musicians like Monte Cazazza and Graeme Revell, and all of whom shared a common interest in the same influences. One such influence was the novel Crash by English author J. G. Ballard, and which in turn revealed the ultimate direction in which all of these artists sensed society to be heading: towards a world in which sex itself has fallen under the mechanical demiurge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Art (in the 20th Century))
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Other

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Open AccessEssay
The Mechanical Art of Laughter
Arts 2019, 8(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8010002 - 21 Dec 2018
Abstract
Our aesthetic experiences are today conditioned by machines, which operate at multiple levels: at the moment of conception of a work, at the moment of conservation and distribution of the work, and at the moment of its contemplation. For art today, it is [...] Read more.
Our aesthetic experiences are today conditioned by machines, which operate at multiple levels: at the moment of conception of a work, at the moment of conservation and distribution of the work, and at the moment of its contemplation. For art today, it is no longer a theoretical question of asking whether the machine can act with freedom in the sense of a game that remains as of yet open-ended—or if humans themselves can still so act in a world entirely conditioned by technology—because the brute fact is that machines are becoming ever more autonomous, and humans ever more dependent upon them. For some artists, therefore, the ideas of autonomy and sacralization are best addressed, not in the posing of serious questions, but rather through the subversive activity of enticing the machine to reveal its comic nature—and wherein we discover, with Bergson, the essentially rigid and mechanical nature of the humorous. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Art (in the 20th Century))
Open AccessEssay
Before and Beyond the Bachelor Machine
Arts 2018, 7(4), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts7040067 - 18 Oct 2018
Abstract
This paper will examine the importance of Marcel Duchamp’s La Machine Célibataire (The Bachelor Machine) on Art and Technology in the 20th and 21st centuries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Art (in the 20th Century))
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Open AccessNew Book Received
The Original “Cybernetic Serendipity” Special Issue of Studio International to Be Reprinted
Arts 2018, 7(2), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts7020013 - 02 Apr 2018
Abstract
Studio International (Studio International 2018), the now on-line successor to print art magazine The Studio, is planning a late April 2018 50th anniversary reprinting of its Special Issue dedicated to the historic 1968 “Cybernetic Serendipity” techno-art exhibition (Benavides 2018a)[...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Art (in the 20th Century))
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Open AccessEssay
The Machine as Art (in the 20th Century): An Introduction
Arts 2018, 7(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts7010004 - 23 Jan 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
The machine, over the course of the 20th century, progressively integrated itself into all fields of human activity, including artistic creation; and indeed, with the first decades of that century having established a surprisingly vital and wide-ranging series of perspectives on the relationship [...] Read more.
The machine, over the course of the 20th century, progressively integrated itself into all fields of human activity, including artistic creation; and indeed, with the first decades of that century having established a surprisingly vital and wide-ranging series of perspectives on the relationship between art and the machine, certain artists in the wake of the Second World War no longer felt compelled to treat the machine as a mere theme or source of inspiration: the machine itself becomes art—unless it is art which seeks to become mechanical? The artist mutates into “artist-engineer”; and this transition, resonating within a specific historical context, leads not only to a questioning of the nature of the work itself, but also to a broader questioning which places us within the realm of anthropology: what is this art telling us about the actual conditions of contemporary human society, and what is it telling us about the future to which we aspire? It is the goal of this special issue of Arts to stimulate an historically conscious, protean, and global (re)thinking of the cultural relationship between man and machine; and to this end, we welcome contributions falling anywhere within the nearly infinite spectrum represented by the prismatic period during the middle of the last century in which the machine became a legitimate artistic medium. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Art (in the 20th Century))
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