November 18, 2009

First Proposal - DeHuman Machine

The DeHuman Machine is a kinetic sculpture/performance piece that reflects the loss of human values required to fulfill specific roles in society. To be more specific, the machine points at the automatization and devalue of the human spirit in order to accommodate the current economic system, oriented towards profit gaining and consumerism.

The structure:

As the idea developed recently, the machine structure is not entirely planned out as of yet. Its structure consists of an office cubicle run through by a crank-activated production line. The worker (performer) is inside the cubicle performing his or her duty; which is answering to written questions from the audience in a semi-automatic manner.

How it works:

The participant will write a question in a piece of paper (provided by the machine) and will place it on the conveyor belt going into the office. To get the paper inside the machine, he or she will have to crank a handle that will activate the "production line". Inside, the worker will receive the question, place it in a box and dispense the automated answer in the same manner as it was submitted -there will be a crank on the inside which runs the conveyor belt going on the opposite direction. No matter what the question is, the answer will be a non-answer and will be the exact same for each question.


This piece does not intend to just get people frustrated when realizing they will not receive a straight answer, it is also meant to have the audience experience both sides of the machine. The functional side was mentioned previously but the performance piece is what is going to get the audience BE the machine. At given times, the worker-performer will take breaks and will ask of people passing by to run the machine for the time he or she is gone off duty. The working of the machine would be explained in such a way that will enable the audience to become active participants of the process and inner workings of the machine.


The piece was inspired by a set of correspondences between myself and a banking institution, which resulted in merely burocratic responses from the employees I have contacted. After a mistake made by the Royal Bank of Canada, which jeopardized my financial situation, I decided to write an extensive letter in which I asked of the reader to step outside their role as an employee of the institution and give me a response from their "human" perspective. Up to this date, I have not been able to bend the rules and regulations which prevents the employee from being a person. My question can only be answered by a human being who has values and emotions. A human being, by simply fulfilling the role of an employee, is sacrificing their human values and becoming no different than a machine that has been programmed to execute a specific duty.

With this piece I intend to demonstrate that what holds the economic structure together is in fact a person becoming desensitized from human emotions and fulfilling the role for which they have been trained. How much are we willing to sacrifice our moral values in order to do the job? What is our real job as human beings? How far will we get as a civilization by denying our hearts and free will?

"The mediator between head and hands must be the heart..."
(Metropolis, Fritz Lang - 1927)

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