TRANSFORMER | Breaking Machine

Breaking Machine


It is the art gallery’s potential as a site of re-creation, or transformation, that we are interested in. But, in the spirit of mindfulness, let’s examine our assumptions. Firstly, let’s jettison the label ‘art gallery’ for now, and see what happens. What are we left with? We have a building, one with special properties. When we place things within it they appear changed; or rather, the way we view them has the potential to become altered – widened.

In this sense our building can be seen as a machine – a breaking machine. It contains a vacuum, devoid of assumptions or associations, and when something is placed within it the vacuum strips it of these things. It is in this sense that the machine becomes a site of re-appraisal.

Anything can be placed within the machine – its context-breaking properties work on most things, from the most mundane to the most esoteric and complex. Because the machine strips things of their context (and, by extension, the assumptions that we make which are related to context) they can be seen in a different way to how we may normally see them.

Let’s try an object in the machine, something that most of us probably encounter on a daily basis: a tree. We enter the building and are faced with this tree. We wonder why it is here, and examine it to see if it contains any clues – perhaps it is different from other trees, and we may try and discern this difference. Eventually we may come to the conclusion that it appears to be a normal tree, much like all of the other trees that we see outside on a daily basis. We decide to stop looking at it, and move on.

What has the machine offered us? In removing the tree from its normal context – as an adornment in a city, or a feature of the countryside (amongst other things) – we are able to look at it afresh. This new context has allowed us, if only momentarily, to become mindful to this everyday object.

The machine also works with experiences; what if we were to place a gig inside? Or a fight? A kiss? A planetarium?