"Only a machine is transparent and only two machines can communicate with each other in a transparent way"
- Byung Chul Han, Transparenzgesellschaft
Three Machines on transparency is a project that is imagined as an “exhibition by appointment” where the artist guides the audience throughout the gallery installation. The machines represent artefacts that "do" philosophy or prototypes that materialize ideas. By demonstrating their functionality the artist synthesizes philosophical concepts into the corporeality of the physical prototypes.The principals of their construction and engineering are themselves a quest in transparency. Using shared knowledge in the form of rapid prototyping, public internet "how to" tutorials, building manuals, "tips and tricks" and shared public modular grid for designing, the process becomes open, horizontal and democratic.
On the other hand, without demonstration and information, the machines themselves remain semantically closed and unavailable. They attempt to grasp philosophical complexities trough design by producing another type of scholarship that resembles the written one.
"The Prison" is an observational device, "The Gaze" is a proto-lens and "The Time" vanishes into it's own transparency.
PLA filament, thermochromic micro-granules, pvc tube, aluminium, wood, borosilicate glass, Arduino Micro, servo motors, various electronic components, ice-sprays, glycerine, pump, electric mini stove
Photo: Evi Oravecz and Jasna Dimitrovska
Models: Jukka Boehm, Irena Kukric, Canny Sutanto, David Beerman, Malte Mertz
Exhibited at: Gallery Flut, Bremen; Jahresaustellung14, Bremer Bank, Maker Faire Berlin
Featured at CreativeApplications, NOTCOT, Monograph, Digitale Medien Bremen
focus and defocus
This is more of a device then it is a machine. It is consisted of a led light that is projecting trough a glass object filled up with glycerine. Commonly a light beam does not go trough a glass bottle but it disperses. In optics the refractive index is a number that describes how light, or any other radiation, travels through that medium. The refractive index determines how much light is bent, or refracted, when entering a material.
The refractive index of the glass and the glycerine is pretty similar so the light doesn’t brake, but it goes trough it. By lowering the level of the glycerin we can focus and auto-focus the beam.
This is a proto-lense. The intended effect often seems to be a pre-intellectual wonder, so that you will have the same experience as a 5-year-old does.
Today we don’t feel looked at, gazed at, that is why the gaze in the digital panopticon looks like freedom. It is not scary anymore- we welcome it (Chul Han).
This is a machine called- "The prison". It is an observational device that has one function and two processes providing heat and cold as manually controlled cycles. At the top you see an acrylic sphere covered with biodegradable thermoplastic material that changes it's transparency when heated up to 65°C thus becoming easily moldable. By cooling down slowly loses it's transparency and regains it's firmness. It is perfect for making small gears and it is used for that at the servo-controlled spray mechanism at the bottom of the machine. In this way an environment which triggers this changes in the thermoplastic is being created. Four servo controlled ice spray cans cool down to temperatures of -25 to -55°C.
heating to transparence
cooling to opaqueness
At the bottom attached to the main power cord there is a 5v adapter that powers an Arduino which controls the servos by one switch. There is a reboxed "heat gun" in the middle of the machine, 5v adapter powering a "relay" (electrically operated switch usually using an electromagnet) attached to the main power cord. After a few seconds of heating you can observe the slow process of transparency.
To be exact this is called “translucency” in material terminology as the transport of light is allowed but not an image formation, so the visibility is restricted. Full transparency is impossible to a human being.
Byung Chul Han claims that from a Freudian perspective, the very idea that the subject can be transparent to herself is a phantasy. Only a machine is transparent and only two machines can communicate with each other in a transparent way. The human memory is distinct from computational data storage or memory. Human memory is historical and thus constantly restructured and rewritten. Stored data, however, does not change. It is merely added to existing data and therefore more transparent than human memory.
This machine is a model of “the panopticon”- a design of an institutional building (a prison) from Jeremy Bentham and allows for a single watchman to observe inmates without them knowing that they are being watched.
Foucault writes in his Discipline & Punishment that prisons are complicated institutions because in one sense, they are an extension of the mechanisms of observation and examination that operate outside their walls. Contrary to the panopticon in a disciplinary society, the digital panopticon does not isolate inmates- it connects them (Chul Han).
The time consists of a holder for the thermoplastic. This is how the material originally looks like.
The thermoplastic balls fill up the pipe and stop at the little push mechanism- a plate that gets pushed by the Bowden cable and then releases a small number of balls trough a rubber pipe into the hot water. As before-mentioned the thermoplastic becomes transparent and moldable at the temperature of 65°C so when they fall at the bottom they vanish into their own transparency.
In a few seconds the plastic balls rise to the surface and float to the edges of the glass bottle where they create a foam-like shape.
Transparent time is time without past or future.