Man, Memory, Machine

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Last week I went to the Perelman Building across the street from the main Philadelphia Museum of Art building. The Perelman building houses the Museum’s Library and several other small exhibit spaces.

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Passport, 1967 Robert Rauschenberg (As seen at the Philadelphia Museum of Art)

I came across many interesting works during my visit but for the purpose of this post, I would like to focus in on three pieces. As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been considering memory, perception and time a lot over the past few months. I don’t want to over editorialize these images. I simply hope that by presenting them together in the context of memory, perception and time, that you will experience some of what I saw. I have included text from the exhibit and from the works themselves. I highly recommend visiting the exhibits if possible.

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Les Levine, Canadian (born Ireland, 1935) Making My Own Image, 1975 As seen at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Text from Making My Own Image:

“In January 1975, I went to visit Sonia Sheridan at the Generative Systems lab at the Chicago Art Institute to spend some time working with the 3-M Color-In-Color copying machine. After working with the machine for one day, I realized that the machine almost always knew what to do, but that I was having difficulty explaining to the machine what I wanted it to do. The machine could always make a copy if I could provide an image. As the day went on, I found it more difficult to concentrate on the problem of making an image for the machine to copy. The machine had more power for concentration than I had. So I began to think: the machine is winning. It can produce and image better then I can, so I stopped working with the machine and sat down to think about beating the machine. After 30 minutes I said to Sonia, “I understand the problem now. I have to concentrate harder than the machine. I have to eliminate every other possibility in my mind and body, so that no other parts of me function except those parts that make an image. Then I will be smarter than the machine.” So I bent over the machine and rested my face on the printing surface and said to Sonia, “I am going to stay in this position and concentrate on making my own image for this machine to copy as long as the machine can copy it.” As I began concentrating, Sonia pressed the “print” button and the machine began to automatically print. After about one hour of concentrating on making my own image while looking into the machine, the machine broke down, it had produced 35 copies of the image I was concentrating on. I was still concentrating when Sonia told me, “We have to call the repairman.” I felt satisfied that I had finally overpowered the machine with my image.”

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DURR Designed 2012-14; made 2014, Anodized aluminum & vegetanned leather, Designed by Lars Marcus Vedeler And Theo Tveteras Norwegian, born 1984 and 1986 Made by Skrekkogle AS Osio, Norway. (As seen at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Northern Lights: Scandinavian Design, May 23, 2015 – October 4, 2015)

Text from Display:

Programmed to vibrate briely every five minutes, the “DURR” wristband is a watch without a face. Created by design duo Skrekkogle to illustrate the subjective experience of time’s passage, the same five-minute interval can feel long or short for the uder, depending on personal circumstances.

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