Miserable Machines: Soot-o-mat

THU September 8, 2016 - MON September 12, 2016, 10AM - 7:30 PM
Miserable Machines Alchemists Festival 2016Credit: Hanneke Wetzer

Špela Petrič

In this work mussels are lashed into an electro-stimulated design apparatus to make a vase. They are allowed to relax up to a certain point, then shocked, prompting movement that scratches a design onto the object. The resulting form might be seen as a sobering memento mori, a reflection on manufacturing processes that exploit biology. Biodesign calls for integration with living systems as a technological, environmental and moral imperative.

In six hours the cylinder will move just 20 cm upwards; the contractions happen once every 20 minutes. Within it the mussels live and die in a loop, a cycle of work and relaxation that eventually kills it. If we humans are ourselves engaged in the machine of capitalism, why would we export this to other species? The artist calls it a “biologically-augmented analog-machine poem, a scientifically didactic view of muscle contractions, and lastly a sharp commentary of obsolete but still persisting modes of production with blatant exploitation of living systems.”

Text: William Myers, curator and author

Author: Špela Petrič; Design: Miha Turšič; Produced by: MU, Eindhoven; Advice: Dr. Andrej Meglič; Engineering and realization: Scenart, d.o.o.; Supported: Bioart and Design Award, Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia; With thanks to: Dr. Andrej Razpotnik, Katja Zdešar Kotnik, Dr. Polona Tratnik, and Jaka Železnikar