Janet Cardiff, George Bures Miller. The Killing Machine. 2007

Janet Cardiff, George Bures Miller The Killing Machine 2007

In an automated ballet of robotics, props, light, and sound, The Killing Machine operates on an unseen, imagined victim. You may activate it by pushing the red button labeled “press.” Alluding in part to Franz Kafka’s 1919 short story “In the Penal Colony,” about an elaborate execution apparatus, The Killing Machine ironically contrasts its sinister activity with the rudimentary mechanics of a music box and playful embellishments like faux fur and a disco ball. Part of the artists’ continued exploration of theatrical tropes and immersive environments, this work brings to life a haunting spectacle that, in its futility, doubles as a critique of the sanctioned use of torture.

Gallery label from 2019
Medium
Pneumatics, robotics, electromagnetic beaters, dentist chair, electric guitar, CRT monitors, computer, various control systems, lights, and sound (approx. 5 min.)
Dimensions
9' 10" x 13' 1" x 8' 2" (118 x 157 x 98 cm)
Composer
Freida Abtan
Musician
Freida Abtan
Credit
Gift of the Julia Stoschek Foundation, Düsseldorf, and the Dunn Bequest
Object number
250.2008
Copyright
© 2019 Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. Photo: Seber Ugarte & Lorena López. Courtesy the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York.
Department
Media and Performance

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