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Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
360 Kansas St (Between 16th & 17th Streets), San Francisco, California 94103
October 12, 2017–February 24, 2018
Zarouhie Abdalian, Terry Atkinson, Lutz Bacher, Eva Barto, Neïl Beloufa, Patricia L Boyd, Jay DeFeo, Trisha Donnelly, Harun Farocki, Richard Hamilton, Aaron Flint Jamison, Jacob Kassay, Garry Neill Kennedy, Louise Lawler, Park McArthur, Jean-Luc Moulène, Pope.L, Charlotte Posenenske, Cameron Rowland, and Danh Vo. Curated by Anthony Huberman.
These days, machines don’t look much like machines. Many aren’t even called machines. Heavy and greasy machinery is absent from the smooth surfaces of digital interfaces and the weightlessness of cloud computing—and no one really calls their computer a machine.
If machines have fallen out of view, it’s because they have gotten so damn efficient. They are everywhere but seem to be nowhere. They have become part of the air we breathe, overseeing our lives and our bodies, from the way we communicate and consume to how we trade and how we travel. Some of them are objects or devices, but others are systems and infrastructures—a machine can be a thing as well as a method for organizing things.
Art can’t stop the machine—nothing can. Still, art can add friction back into its circuits by thickening and muddying all that flows through them. Art can test existing systems with inefficient mechanisms, impossible tools, and elaborate protocols that misalign outputs from their inputs.