The Machines – Alex Pearl


About the Artwork

The Machines are a series of ad hoc, low-tech devices exploring relationships between the human and the technical object. A product of wide ranging research into the robots of Science Fiction, the Deus ex Machina of Ancient Greek theatre, Mirror Neurons and the Niagara Falls barrel riders; they deploy forms of breakdown that both draw in and de-center the human.

Machine 16 is a simple sound activated linkage which bears the marks of multiple overhauls. It has developed a great deal of play in its mechanism and is subject to regular seizes, sporadic twitching and irregular movement.

Machine 19 takes the form of a flickering black and white television set mounted on an unstable Formica and deal dais. It sporadically presents an image of what it “sees” before settling back into blankness.

Made and remade, patched and repaired, both machines exhibited here have changed subtly over their lifespan. It is likely that this process will continue over the course of A Grand Exposition.

Through gentle interaction visitors can assume the role of the machines’ assistant, guarding against interruption and keeping them running. This usually involves singing, shouting, clapping or a gentle nudge.

About the Artist

Pearl’s practice displays a boyish fascination with the structures and images of Science Fact and Fiction. It plays with ideas of chance, quotidian struggles, loss of control and failure. Recently he has been making improvised machines that break down.

His output encompasses: video, sculpture, photography, and occasionally even performance. Currently he is working on a practice led PhD in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University and FACT, Liverpool for which he is making a number of machines and films investigating the relationship between mechanical breakdown and anthropomorphism.

He has exhibited nationally and internationally in venues such as: The Sydney Opera House, Tate Britain, the Whitstable Biennale, a tower block in Belfast and a small hut in Siberia.