Machine à dessiner No. 3
Material / technique: Black-painted wooden panel, rotating metal disc, wire/ reverse: 3 wooden wheels, rubber belts, 2 electric motors
Size: 54.5 x 106 x 33 cm
Catalog: Bischofberger 0053
Creditline: Museum Tinguely, Basel
In 1955 Tinguely created three “Machines à dessiner“ with which he tried for the first time to produce mechanical drawings. This drawing apparatus debuted in April 1955 at Galerie Denise René in Paris in the exhibition Le Mouvement, a survey of kinetic art up to that time. Works by various artists and generations were shown: the “forefathers” of movement in art were commemorated with works by Marcel Duchamp and Alexander Calder, while Victor Vasarély represented the “older” generation. Yaacov Agam, Pol Bury, Robert Jacobsen, Jesús Rafael Soto and Jean Tinguely were the “young” artists.
Amongst the works by Tinguely in the exhibition were two of his “Machines à dessiner“, which Pontus Hulten referred to in his text on the retrospective as “les œuvres les plus remarquables, mais moins remarquées de l’exposition”, i.e. as the most noteworthy and yet least remarked-upon artworks in the show. Similar to the “Méta-matics“ that would come four years later, the “Machines à dessiner“ are not artworks themselves but rather produce artworks, namely drawings that the machine-driven arm equipped with a pen applies to a sheet of paper affixed to a rotating disc. What is noteworthy about them is that the viewer operates these “Robots créant dessins et musique concrète“ and hence prescribes the vital parameters for the resulting drawing. In conjunction with the machine’s inventor – Jean Tinguely – and the machine itself as the organ that physically executes the work, the viewer therefore takes on the role of co-creator and co-artist, becoming a participant in the creative act and in the emergence of an (abstract) drawing. Actively involving the formerly passive recipient of retinal stimulus is the credo that Tinguely now tossed into the ring he shared with his kinetic colleagues.