Machines As Material

Intermediate—Spring

This course will treat machines as both subject matter and physical material with which to produce works of art. While we may begin by thinking about machines as discrete functional objects, the course will attempt to expand the definition and potential of machines in art practice. A coffeemaker might be a machine, but so might an entire building, a language, a culture. How are machines ideological, and how can ideologies function as machines? How does the mechanical confirm or contest the human? What metaphors, implied or imagined, can we uncover in a close examination of devices? These questions will fuel our investigations in the studio and be addressed through discussion, screening, and reading that ranges across disciplines. In consultation with the instructor, students will select a machine to act as a creative motor for a series of studio projects. The course will encourage and support students who wish to directly modify or otherwise hack their machines—thereby incorporating elements of physical computing, electronics, and/or computer programming—but our investigations may also integrate or otherwise approach machines with more traditional materials.