Complementing Andy Warhol and Eduardo Paolozzi: I want to be a machine this display in the Keiller Library explored the influence of the machine and technology on artists from the early twentieth century to the present day.
The display drew on the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Archive and Special Books collection, to explore how artists - including Fernand Léger, Francis Picabia, Agnes Miller Parker, Eduardo Paolozzi, Marcel Duchamp and Tauba Auerbach - have responded to and engaged with technology over the past century.
Artists in the early years of the twentieth century embraced the imagery of the machine to create a new visual vocabulary, centred around the cylinder, piston and crankshaft. But machines – whether real or imagined – could also hold symbolic meaning for artists, from the mischievous sexual innuendo in Francis Picabia’s machine paintings in the 1910s to Pop artists’ use of dystopian science-fiction imagery in the 1960s.
New technologies could be used as more than just a source of visual inspiration: advances in industry provided new materials and techniques with which artists could work, from Fernand Leger’s early experimentations in film to Marcel Duchamp and Naum Gabo’s pioneering use of plastics and acrylics. Developments in computing and cybernetics in the 1960s, followed by innovations in artificial intelligence and augmented reality in the 21st century, opened up new vistas in which artists could explore and critique the world around them.
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