“Enterprising Machines” explores our advanced relationship with expertise : Arts : Smile Politely


From the primary labor-saving units pitched to American housewives, to medical units, to the lastest sensible house expertise, our relationships to machines have lengthy been as promising as they’re problematic. In a shopper tradition fueled by an habit to novelty, progress yields obsolescence. And all through this march of invention, we proceed to redefine our selves and our roles in society. 

For an artist like Jessica Gondek, whose sequence “Enterprising Machines” exhibits at Parkland Faculty’s Giertz Gallery via November 2nd, these questions inform each topic and methodology. At first of the month, I advised you see “Enterprising Machines” in my listing of must-see arts occasions for October 2019.  Now, having skilled the exhibition (repleat with artist-led tour), noticed viewers reactions to it,  and given it further analysis and consideration, I can safely say that is actually one thing to see.  The work, and the vital questions it raises, will stick with you lengthy after you permit the Giertz Gallery.

Gondek is a conceptual artist, whose sequence mirror in depth analysis, historic and cultural references, and progressive mash-ups in each method and topic. For this author, the expertise of “Enterprising Machines” was significantly enhanced by a little bit of pre-visit  analysis. 

Pre-exhibition releases from the artiist shared that “Jessica Gondek “incorporates present expertise utilizing each hand and mechanical approaches to develop her work. Stemming from an curiosity in geometry, machine aesthetics, structure, and nature, her current physique of labor is sparked by machines from the early a part of the twentieth-century, outdated commerce catalogues, home utilitarian objects, Da Vinci’s innovations and conflict machines, Duchamp, and up to date artwork actions. Marrying each conventional media and digitally mediated pc approaches to the work, she blurs the road of distinction between the hand and the machine.”

This isn’t to say that Gondek’s work has a singular, artist-approved that means or message.  Fairly the opposite.  Visible artists, in contrast to performing artists, don’t usually expertise common suggestions from their viewers. So I really feel extremely fortunate to have witnessed a uncommon hour of audience-artist exhange. 

Gondek started behind the gallery with the sooner works on this sequence the place machines seem within the home panorama. In a current essay on Gondek’s work, artwork historian Paula Wisotski observes the next.

“[Early on, the artist was” impressed by the early twentieth-century booklet The Enterprising Housekeeper printed by the Philadelphia-based Enterprise Manufacturing Firm in 1902. Masquerading as a cookbook geared toward women with useful tips on meals preparation and “200 examined recipes,”  in  actuality the  publication was a advertising and marketing software for the producer’s home units.”

As Gondek walked our group via these items, she famous that the usage of paint for a deepr exploration of shade,  notably because it pertains to and challenges conventional gendering of home duties and home roles and duties. Right here easy irons are deconstructed and reworked into playful expressions of transparency and type. 

Shifting into the newer work within the sequence, the main focus steadily shifted out of the home sphere, into the manufacturing facility and past. These items, a number of of that are proven right here on this evaluation, make use of a course of as progressive and complexly layered because the questions they pose.

Wistoski’s feedback on Gondek’s course of notice that “At one stage her incorporation of supplies from this era reinforces her connections to the artists whose examples have influenced her, but, on the similar time, her selections carry with them the patina of historical past and can’t escape a sure nostalgia owing to the comparatively uncomplicated nature of the machines elements – for instance, easy gear wheels and hand­ operated cranks — she has chosen to breed. This historic gulf is intensified by her manipulation of the supply objects through computer-aided design and the digital printer; a course of made attainable by machines way more refined than these components depicted within the drawings themselves. Ending the works with hand additions in charcoal and pastel, Gondek employs a variety of inventive instruments, commenting on the  artist as middleman between custom and innovation.”

In the direction of the tip of the tour, the group stood in entrance of the pictures above and under providing questions and impressions, taking stabs at attainable inspiration in these half-figurative, half-impressionistic compositions. 

Gondek layering methods work in the direction of creating a robust sense of motion. A number of of us felt as if we may nearly hear the whirring of the motors, the air transferring via the blades and numerous cogs.  Visually and even perhaps aurally these later items within the sequence obtain a symphonic resonace of conversations between outdated and new, outdated and re-imagined, masculine and female, movement and stillness. 

As we reached the tip of the tour, standing earlier than the 2 works under, many people sensed a merging of human and mechanic entities.  The compositions themselves nearly counsel figurative drawings. And the 2 collectively, shoulder to shoulder, have been seen by some as different aspect views.  For others the purple advised blood working via, animating the chilly grey of the mechanics. Some noticed ideas of the feminine and male varieties. Others noticed the suggestion of a coronary heart, maybe the human spirit throughout the machine. Impromptu because it was, it was an interesting group train in artwork appreciation.

As we have been making ready to depart, Gondek thought extra in regards to the ideas of hearts and lungs.  She then shared that these items have been developed shortly after the sickness and loss of life of her personal father. A connection that appeared important. As medical units morph into implantable and even wearable tech, the traces between human and machine proceed to blur.  From irons to authentic iPhones, we proceed to re-negotiate our identities and our roles in a tradition of built-in obsilence that reveres novelty regardless of its prices. 

Go expertise this thought-provoking and very well-executed exhibition and take into account Gondek’s method and the bigger notions it challenges. 

Jessica Gondek: Enterprising Machines
Giertz Gallery
Parkland Faculty
2400 W Bradley Ave, Champaign
September 30th via November 2nd

Images courtesy of Giertz Gallery. Notice: all photographs from this sequence included on this evaluation are titled “Enterprising Machines” 



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