StartPoint Prize 2015

Nicola Arthen

For nearly 200 years, society and art have been fascinated by the topic of men and machines. Machines took over men's work and today they perform tasks beyond the possibilities of human hands. We are all used to utilising the results of invisible work; the work has either been done by non-human machines or machine-like people in the countries to which work has been outsourced. Most of us can hardly imagine the production line work, so characteristic of the 19th and 20th centuries. Nicola Arthen has abstracted such work in his video to a robotic ballet of two hands repeating precisely the same moves over and over again. Today, the futuristic ideal of a merge between man and machine has gained new technical and social dimensions. In High Jump a perfect athletic movement is carried out by a limp body carried by five pairs of arms. Who is working like a machine now? The movement is materialised, the phasing is visualised, yet the whole video is charged as if it were a religious Renaissance scene. Tension between the mechanical and the bodily is also typical of Arthen's sculptures. (rv)