The artistic collaboration between man and machine.

Por: Leonardo Mejía Madero


Since its inception, man developed different tools to facilitate their tasks and thus be able to meet their needs, one of them, intrinsic to any human being, was to communicate. Like every human being, primitive man also came into the world without any instruction, goal or mission, and therefore through interactivity he was forced to know his environment and adapt to it, as it happens now, of course, under the great wave of technological advances.

According to the Spanish Royal Academy, the word machine refers to the "set of combined devices to receive a certain form of energy and transform it into a more adequate one, or to produce a certain effect."

Starting from the previous thing, the idea of he algorithm emanates immediately in any field, but this time I will concentrate only on the artistic one.

Undoubtedly, the capabilities of many machines make modern man look obsolete. What a Renaissance cabinetmaker managed to carve with his gouges in several days, today a devastating bit does in minutes. Similarly, the arrival of tools such as rotomartillo, makes materials such as stone now seem quite fragile and easy to manipulate.

The tone of the blood with which primitive man painted the cave of Altamira, today is sold in oil tubes ready to be used, and with approximately 15,000 years of difference and an endless number of machines at his disposal, the current man conserves the desire to express themselves and leave their mark.

Analyzing thoroughly, the machines are from the production of materials, which in turn could be called part of the pre-production of art. Incidentally, variants of art do not require any material in the strict sense and for questions like this I find it necessary to clarify that art does not always end or try to find its essence in materiality.

Contrary to the above and by the way it is structured, the body can also be seen as a tool and / or machine. However, much of the art displayed today finds its foundations in the machines, whether in preproduction, production, postproduction, assembly or distribution.

At the beginning of the last century, technological innovation brought with it the approach of various machines, clearly influencing art, remember the fourth premise of the futurist manifesto:

"We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racecar with its belly adorned with thick pipes, like serpents of explosive and furious breath ... a car that seems to run on shrapnel, is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace. "(Manifesto del Futurismo, 1909).

In this way, the machines gave their first blow, opening the crack through which later the art would permeate.

Another event of great impact in society seems to me to be the science fiction cinema, whose boom I suspect that big companies and technological developers will bet on the fantastic models that this genre presented, because it was enough to observe the spectators leaving the cinema halls in awe .

However, I consider that the strongest blow occurred until the nineties with the arrival of multimedia art, thus strengthening hundreds of artists in search of increasingly innovative proposals, which until today remain in development.

New generations will continue to emerge. The truth is that technological innovation and the insertion of machines will continue to shape our lifestyles, forcing us directly or indirectly to adapt.

Luckily, although we are presented with multiple scenarios, we will continue to see where we want. Well Brea left it written "The ability to see is not limited to the organic quality of the eye" (Brea, J, L, 2010). Falling again in some of the characteristics that distinguish us so much from machines: being analytical, critical and reflexive subjects.

I also believe that the collaboration between machine and human is increasingly accepted and as we are so vulnerable, I believe that in the future the implementation of technological improvements in humans will not be doubted, making transhumanism a reality, giving more and more reason to the phrase "It is easier to robotize a human, than to humanize a robot" (Anonymous). And whatever the field to work, the machines will be present.

Finally, as part of my personal experience, I perceive that art will continue to benefit from its context and if there are machines in it, it will not hesitate to appropriate them.

An example of this is the work of Fabián Cano, who draws from technologies distanced from the artistic context and close to massive work such as using backhoes for that purpose, leaving here another variable on the air: the possibility of using the tools that expand the possibilities of the body, either to optimize the work or perhaps to hinder it.

By questioning the body as a direct instrument of artistic creation, Cano evidently makes a comment about man and new technologies, and poses a different way of structuring the movement of the body through a lever.
The list is long and excessively debatable, today cultural diversity is very difficult and orienting art towards a concrete path would be an impossible task. A final concept that comes to my mind is the contemporary, because it is also fashionable to listen to artists put on this label.

Technically the machines achieve amazing results, however issues such as creativity are still human and I like to take advantage of them.

In conclusion, I would doubt our human quality, but never that we are programmable beings. Another difference with the machines is that if we commit or find an error it is possible that we can repair it or manage it, we can even detect favorable errors.

"The computer is not an intelligent machine that helps stupid people, in fact it is a stupid machine that works only in the hands of intelligent people"

-Umberto Eco



Real Academia Española. (2001). Diccionario de la lengua española (22.a ed.). Madrid, España: Autor.

Brea, J. L. (1990). Las Tres Eras de la Imagen. (1ª ed.) Madrid: Ediciones AKAL.