The Machine as Myth

Keynote by Dr. Andreas Broeckmann, Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig/ Leuphana University Lüneburg.


The machine has to be placed between quotation marks. The machine of the 20th century (and hence also the machine of "machine art") is based on a conception of technology in which technics is pitched against the human. The notion of the "machine" signifies this antagonistic construction, and most usages of the machine concept articulate and reaffirm this mythological structure. Similarly, the discourse on "artificial intelligence" – another modern myth of technology – constructs an ideological formation geared at the subjection of humans under the technological (and bio-political) paradigm of cybernetics (rather than under homologuous paradigms of, for instance, spiritualism, animism, or humanism). Poised between anthropomorphism and mechanomorphism, "the machine" is not some essential, authentic entity, but it is the subject of a tale told about humans and their world.