Impolite Machines



Impolite Machines

by Adriana Salazar
Installation art, sculpture

View an image of the artwork

We see what seems to be blood spattered on the floor of a surgical theatre. The dark, curdled liquid slides, unabsorbed, atop a treated surface. As the velvety fluid gathers in pools, the plastic seems poised to peel away, sodden with sediment. This sanguineous substance is red wine, spilled from its glass by an automated machine, repeatedly refilled by two others. The aroma of ethanol fortifies the air, the triad of metal surgeons becoming drunker with each outpouring. The mechanism’s claw is proffered again and again, always angling for more.

Like the Graeae of Greek mythology, three prophetess sisters fighting over one grisly eye, the trio of machines seems tangled in eternal conflict. They form not a vicious circle, but a tortured triangle, arms and elbows angrily executing the same aggressive gestures over and over. When one of them wipes the wine bottle clean, a drilling sound is elicited, an alarming noise that would be unsettling to hear emanating from an operating theatre. Lives may not be at stake, but with each swig spat back out we wince.

Words by Elizabeth Brown

A glass is upended, red wine tossed away. Performed by human hands, this act would suggest dinner-party drama: offence caused, scandalous secrets let slip. Instead, the drink is slowly tipped. It drips pitifully, collecting into a sad puddle. Bereft of a back story and emptied of empathy, the motion looks as inhuman as the machine’s metallic frame. We are refused context, choreographic complexity, and the smug schadenfreude supplied by a stained tuxedo, but the connotations of conflict remain.

The title of Salazar’s work is pluralistic; the wine-thrower is not the only ill-mannered motor in the room. The mechanisms holding the bottle and the napkin seem to be playing a game of sorts; they top up the tipple with a veneer of patience, but their insistence borders on passive aggression. They are hostile hosts, forcing hospitality upon their guest even when none is desired. This purposeless cycle of waste and rejection is doomed to continue, until the alcohol has gone, or the energy is cut out.

Words by John Wadsworth

More to discover

Watch a video of the artwork here. Visit Adriana Salazar's website here. Read an interview with the artist for Aesthetica Magazine.

Question of the day 

Are robots a threat to human artists? Share your thoughts on Facebook, Patreon, or Twitter.

No. Technology (in all forms) simply represents more tools for artists to leverage. At least until true AI becomes reality.

– Eric A. Anderson, game developer (Myst series, The Witness) (via The Brief →)

I think robots might struggle with spontaneity, which is often a component of creativity.

– Emma McKinlay, Silent Frame Sub-Editor (via Twitter →)

Read more: Sculpture