Paul van Katwijk
Kings Artist Run, Melbourne, 2015
Through The Painting Machine the blurry line of appreciation between hand or machine made products is examined. With paintings generally being ‘one off’ pieces a machine that produces painting after painting all with the same feel and of a certain quality counters this sacred aura that paintings can often arouse. Does the fact that these paintings are made by a machine mean these paintings are less of value than a hand made painting? The machine is built as simple and low tech as possible with products widely available and easily replaceable so that any one could reproduce it and therefore also produce paintings. The Painting Machine consists of a simple water feature pump sunk in a basin filled with black acrylic paint and water, the pump is connected to plastic tubing that runs up along the painting. At the top of the painting the tubing turns 90 degrees and runs along the top of the painting. The overhanging tube is perforated and drips paint over the surface of the painting underneath. At the bottom of the painting the water and paint mixture drips back in the basin with the pump and the cycle starts again. Produced are abstract field paintings containing a number of layers.
In an ever demanding society that seeks for quantity over quality, profits over improvement, mass production over sustainability, the question rises what values we hang on certain products and why. It seems society enjoys and therefore places a higher worth in big mass produced products that are widely for sale as cheap as possible than looking for high quality products that are worth paying a bit more for. This behaviour is encouraged by industries which make products that break down after a short time so you have to by a new one, creating a never ending cycle of production. Since the industrial revolution machines have taken over tasks of humans to make our life easier. Soon after they started to determine what was produced, how many, how fast and how cheap. Now it is a ‘fun’ novelty when a product is not mass produced and in a limited quantity, we call this craft or limited edition, paintings being one of them. So where lays the value in a product in this hazy world?
” Art is a type of science, for me a scientific type of research into painting. I look at how painting is perceived by the general public but also how it has developed in an art historical context. In the case of The Machine my hypothesis was that people would be slightly weary about machine made paintings. The outcome was quite different. In the first show where The Machine produced a painting a day people seemed to be pleasantly positive about the machine itself and the paintings it made. In the second show, where I had a machine made and a hand made painting, both painted in a similar manner, people did not seem to care about how the paintings were made but purely looked at the outcome of the paintings. Through art we have the ability to visually pick apart and discuss a multitude of concerns, presenting an idea to an audience, watching their reactions, which then drive further enquiries. Like more traditional scientific investigations art can be used as a vessel to seek understanding, to unravel vast concepts and question systems present in our society. “
Photographs and text courtesy of the artist.