The Message is the first artwork in my Automata series of mixed media scupltures. Here there are 5 moving parts above the platform. By turning the handle on the right some parts rotate and others move vertically; all at differing speeds. The construction is made from wood, paper, and doll parts with a little paint and stands roughly 20cm by 8cm by 20cm. I’ll be accompanying these photographs soon with a video showing how The Message works.
There are so many interpretations you can take from this artwork as a viewer so what exactly is The Message? To me it is a response to a paragraph from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein . There are so many cliches in popular culture regarding Frankenstein since its writing in 1818, but here I am considering only the words created by Shelley herself. Later in this series I’ll be considering Freud’s ideas on the uncanny in bringing animation to the inanimate. There may be references to Hoffmann’s Der Sandmann somewhere along the line. In fact, Automata is likely to be referencing a lot of literature of various kinds.
Incidentally, the fact that I’m using dolls is not a gender specific act and should not be interpreted as such. To me they’re just a way to complement the delicate nature of the working mechanism. I’ll be writing a more formal philosophy on this work as the series progresses and probably leave all my own reasonings out so that The Message for the viewer is more ambiguous. Meanwhile, here’s that paragraph from Shelley which inspired my methods:
“When I found so astonishing a power placed within my hands, I hesitated a long time concerning the manner in which I should employ it. Although I possessed the capacity of bestowing animation, yet to prepare a frame for the reception of it with all its intricacies… still remained a work of conceivable difficulty and labour. I doubted at first whether I should attempt the creation of a being like myself, or one of simpler organisation…”*
- Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, Volume 1 Chapter 4