On Track

In Serial (Linda Dement, Petra Gemeinboeck, PRINZGAU/podgorschek, Marion Traenkle)

2009

The slippery, smelly performance of On Track emerges from an unusual mix of materials, interactions and interferences between a mechanical mop, a troupe of robotic brushes and spilling viscous fluids. The work develops an ironic lens through which to look at human endeavour, its overly complicated mechanisms and procedures, and their vulnerability to a slipperiness already built in. A disaster-prone scenario unfolds as the protagonists—apparently set to clean—spill, interrupt and hinder each other, creating an ever more slippery mess in intricately choreographed ways.

On Track’s machinery materialises notions of the recurrent, futile and instable in an assemblage of four interacting actors, at whose core lie repetitiveness, interference, constraint and deterioration. A slowly swinging mop is joined by a troupe of autonomous robotic brushes that bring a nervous, teetering energy to the scenario. Opposing and extending the mechanic and pendulous, the robotic brushes bear something more human; laden with intent and sensation, they perform complex choreographed agitations. The dialogue between the two, carried through infrared signals, only serves to interrupt the robot’s movements and thus to interfere with the brushes’ impossible assignment. To propel the narrative of slippage and hindrance, two further ‘systems’ were in play. Five large industrial buckets are filled with viscous liquids, latex, fish glue, and other slimy substances. The buckets are leaking and supply an ongoing provocation for the mop that with each swing, mixes them together with pigments to create a congealing trail of puddles and crust. The robots themselves are trapped on platforms mounted above the buckets. Confined by their elevated cells, they are abandoned to gesture restlessly and in frustration, teeter at the precipice. Doing so, they constantly rock the buckets and unknowingly contribute to the creeping mess.

On Track. Installation scheme. 2009

On Track. Installation view. State Museum of Contemporary Art. Thessaloniki. 2009

On Track. Detail. Academy of Fine Arts. Katowice. 2009