Posted in Exhibitions, Sited work by chrisfremantle on December 12, 2012

Billy Klüver reminds us of Jean Tinguely’s work on collapse in Artists, Engineers, and Collaboration Klüver-Billy-Artists-Engineers-and-Collaboration (published in Culture on the Brink: Ideologies of Technology, A Manifesto for Cyborgs. Bender, G. and Druckrey, T. (Eds) Dia Center for the Arts, Discussions in Contemporary Culture Number 9. Seattle: Bay Press, 1994).

Jean Tinguely came to New York City in early 1960. On seeing the city for the first time, he decided to build a large machine that would violently destroy itself in front of an audience in a theater, throwing off parts in all directions. A protective netting would save the audience. When the Museum of Modern Art invited Jean to build his machine in the garden of the museum, he asked me for help. I took him to the New Jersey dumps, which in those days were not covered with dirt. He found bicycle wheels, parts of old appliances, tubs, and other junk, which we hauled to the museum and threw over the fence into the garden.

Enlisting the help of Harold Hodges at Bell Laboratories, we built a timer that controlled eight electrical circuits that closed successively as the machine progressed towards its ultimate fate. Motors started; smoke, generated by mixing titanium tetrachloride and ammonia, bellowed out of a bassinet; a piano began to play and was later set on fire; smaller machines shot out from the sculpture and ran into the audience. In order to make the main structure collapse, Harold had devised a scheme of using supporting sections of Wood’s metal, which would melt from the head of overheated resistors. The whole thing was over in twenty-seven minutes. The audience applauded, and then descended on the wreckage for souvenirs. Jean called the event Homage to New York. During those three or four weeks of the construction of the machine I learned how to listen to the artist, and to give him as many technical choices as I could – as quickly as possible. And as Jean has said repeatedly since, it couldn’t have happened without our collaboration.

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  1. chrisfremantle said, on December 19, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Reblogged this on and commented:

    Speaking of collapse, Unclear Holocaust is a feature-length autopsy of Hollywood’s New York-destruction fantasy, gleaned from over fifty major studio event-movies and detourned into one relentless orgy of representational genocide. It is the unrivaled assembly of the greatest amount of capital and private property heretofore captured in one frame, that, with unfathomable narrative efficacy, suicides itself in an annihilatory flux of fire, water, and aeronautics.

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